Island Lake Biomass Research and Demonstration Area 130-101

Description: CFS-OMNR research addressing aspects of biomass harvesting on soil processes and sustainable productivity in northern Ontario has a long history. Nevertheless, the growing interest in biomass harvesting for energy production in Ontario, now raises additional questions in terms of sustainable soil productivity as well as issues of biodiversity, forest operations and economics which need to be considered. In recognition of both this history of research and the rapidly increasing interest in biomass harvesting for energy production, this project involves new research installations in Northern Ontario to address ecological implications of a range of biomass harvesting (i.e., including for bioenergy) on site-level ecological processes at the 0.3 – 0.5 ha plot scale (soil processes, stand productivity, vegetation and soil biodiversity).  The region encompassed by the Northeast Superior Forest Community (NSFC) provides an ideal platform for this work because of a) the presence of numerous forest products industries and forest-dependent communities; b) the current emphasis on economic diversification; c) widespread support for this research among the communities and First Nations groups; and d) relatively good proximity to CFS (Sault Ste. Marie) and OMNR (Thunder Bay) research establishments.

The project is a three-step process:
1) Establish a core set of replicated treatments in two general forest conditions:
     a) Mature commercial forest scheduled for harvest, and
     b) Middle-aged degraded (backlog) forest of limited current or projected value for traditional forest products.
Treatments include a broad range of potential biomass harvest intensities using clearcut silvicultural systems, and research focusses on sustainability questions related to tree and stand productivity, soil processes, vegetation dynamics and biodiversity issues appropriately  studied at the 0.3 -0.5 ha scale.
2) Establish a series of satellite sites in similar forest conditions and site type(s) and encompassing the range of treatments, but with less replication per site (i.e., additional replication provided by combining sites).
3) Integrate findings with those of other researchers who have established larger-scale (e.g. 5 -10 ha) treatment blocks using a more limited set of treatments on similar sites in the same general area. The latter studies could address operational issues related to harvesting systems, socio-economic evaluations and larger-scale biodiversity issues. 

Objective: Restoring high quality boreal conifer stands through integrated forest, biomass harvest and regeneration treatments, and investigating sustainability thresholds of these treatments.

Project Team:
CFS researchers - Rob Fleming, Paul Hazlett, Isabelle Aubin, Lisa Venier, Kara Webster
OMNR researcher - Dave Morris
FNFP interns- Isabell Souliere, Jamie Bananish
NSCF-Clara Lauziere
CFS support staff – Scott Capell, Dave Curry, Kevin Good, Laura Hawdon, Rob Irwin, Kerrie Wainio-Keizer, Denis
Leblanc, Deb Mossa, Beatrix Schwarz, Tom Weldon, Stephanie Wilson
OMNR support staff – Chris Dionne, Dan Duckert, Laura Edgington, Martin Kwiaton, Matt Levesque, Alissa Makela, Rob Whaley 


Status Reports:

Island Lake Project Update December 2011

Island Lake Project Update June 2012


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