A century of technology at the Petawawa Research Forest (Chief Scientist Vlog)

To celebrate the Petawawa Research Forest’s 100th anniversary, we’re exploring how forest research technologies have evolved over time and how the information that is collected in this research forest can be applied to today’s problems and sustainable forest management.

Transcript

Donna:

Hi, I am here today at the Petawawa Research Forest, which is Canada’s oldest operating research forest centre. We are here today to celebrate their 100th anniversary, so 100 years of studying the forest in this same locality. The research forest has been looking at different parameters, and looking at silviculture and the establishment of the forest for over 100 years using different technologies. We will be talking to three collaborators today to look at how those different technologies have evolved overtime and how the information, the knowledge and the data that is collected here in the research forest, how it can be applied to solve today’s problems and also to help sustainable management of the forest.

Donna:

We are standing here on the Permanent Sample Plot #1. I asked as we were driving out here does #1 really mean it was the first 100 years ago. So can you tell me a bit more of the history of the Petawawa Research Forest and this permanent sample plot.

Murray Woods:

You know, it is so neat to have long lived plots as Donna mentioned. If you can image back in 1918 a stand of white pine after a fire that was about this size in diameter, the stems, and over this time in a hundred years this has actually been harvested seven times. And so, you’re seeing the benefit of removing some of the smaller trees, the poorer trees, leaving the bigger trees to form the next canopy, our diameters are larger and we are trying to promote white pine regeneration to come forward. So, we have a track record of individual trees measured over that 100 years, measure every five and ten years all the way along so we can sort of see how trees grow, their growth rates and how they die and how the stand composition changes over time. We use that for modeling.

Donna Kirkwood:

I know you weren’t there a hundred years ago, but you may have a bit of insight to provide us on what we were sampling 100 hundred years ago, what were the techniques, how would we measure things and for what purpose?

Murray Woods:

Some things have not changed a lot in terms of what we are doing today. We would measure trees of diameter and heights so we would go up to each tree and we would put a diameter tape or calipers where we would measure the diameter and that was our primary way of measuring the tree attributes.

Donna Kirkwood:

And so I guess over the years the Petawawa Research Forest evolved from a couple of sample plots to more and more, do you have any information of that evolution, and the different sample plots, how they evolved and for what purpose?

Murray Woods:

White pine regeneration, fire history, developing forest fire index system for forest fire prediction, for sure regeneration in terms we look at artificial regeneration, what’s the appropriate planting density for species like red pine, spruce and jack pine, genetics work, all those were established so there’s a whole range, we were saying some of the numbers like 500 permanent sample plots that are out there so we have we have many years of individuals tree measurements that we can use in terms of modeling now but also look at re-measuring now as climate change issues are being dealt with to see what impacts we are seeing in those growth rates.

Donna Kirkwood:

Lise talked about the partnerships here, which are really important, Murray as he was introducing himself he was saying that he actually originally worked with the provincial government but is working with NRCan right now, so great collaboration between provincial and federal governments. We will move on to Scott, so Scott, another type of partner that we work with here in Petawawa, the users of the data and the information that we collect here, so maybe a few words on the importance of the Petawawa Research Forest?

Scott McPherson:

I do forest management planning and some of the really critical things that I need to be able to do is describe my forest as it is today, so good inventory is critically important, being able to say how is that forest has changed over time in the past, and detect changes through time so again those inventory pieces of how is the forest described over time and through disturbances, whether that be through fire, harvesting and renewal. But then the most challenging of all is then being able to predict the future of how that forest is being developed 100 years from now. We actually plan over a 150-year time frame and so again, by building models that we’re projecting forward based on how things changed through time in the past is extremely important.

Donna Kirkwood:

So Bastien, I guess what I would like you to talk more about is what you are actually working on, and we were talking about using the latest techniques to be able to learn more and more about the forests and the trees so we can feed that into sustainable management practices. How about you talk a bit more about your work?

Bastien Vandendaele:

I am in a big project called the AWARE Project and it is a project across the whole of Canada, we have partnerships with governments, with food industries and with also universities, and that is very interesting to be able to get access to all of this data here in Petawawa. What we are trying to do, I’m not the only one, we are a team of 15 students involved in this project, is to get the help of the remote sensing technology to enhance forest inventory, so I am looking at LiDAR technology.

Donna Kirkwood:

LiDAR, as a Geologist I have worked with LiDAR data. It is actually an airborne sensor that sends light down and receives it back up and it gives you the height of different objects. There is airborne LiDAR and I think this is also a similar type of instrument, a LiDAR?

Bastien Vandendaele:

Yes. I can show you, this is a version of the LiDAR called Kaarta Contour, and it is a brand of LiDAR Scanning. It is pretty simple, you just need to put it down and just create a new project, and so when the project is done, what you just have to do is to walk through the forest. I can just take a picture to show this will be the beginning of our scan. Then you just put it down. What you see here is the LiDAR moving in. The idea is the sensor is going to move and get a 360 acquisition and 190 degrees acquisition like this. Right now you are in the 3D mode beginning to throw a continuous light signal and as this rotating mirror is moving you get a million information coming in this scene.

Donna Kirkwood:

So basically we will be creating a video game of the forest?

Bastien Vandendaele:

Yes, you can say that, a 3D video game but a 3D acquisition is more exactly. You are going to see everything, the chairs, the trees and the people maybe.