Your Forest in a Changing Climate
Climate Adaptation Project Case Study
Conrad and Elspeth Leroux own 487 acres of land off of Route 580 in Carleton County. They first bought a section of the woodlot in 1978.
Conrad is retired and enjoys the peacefulness of his woodlot. He wants to increase the health, diversity and resilience of his woodlot while improving it’s timber value at the same time.
History of site:
Softwood height: 2-3 metres
Hardwood height: 5-6 metres
Predominantly hardwood area on slight rocky slope with southern exposure.
A few mature softwoods, mostly younger sugar maple, red maple, poplar and cherry
Fast growth due to soil fertility
Some ledge outcrops under shallow soil
Some areas of poor drainage
Regeneration too young to provide timber volume (M3 or cords), so stems per hectare (stems/ha) were used instead.
Formerly cleared farmland (before the 1970’s). One part of the woodlot was used as a Christmas tree plantation, and after they stopped selling Christmas trees, the remaining plantation was left to grow on its own. Another section had a Red pine plantation that was harvested in 2018/19. The area where the case study site is located was clear cut about 20 years ago.
What has the woodlot been used for in the past (e.g. timber harvesting, firewood, farmland, been left wild and free)?
Prior to the 1970’s, about half was cleared land used for farming. After our acquisition, part was operated as a Christmas tree plantation. This was eventually stopped due to market conditions and time constraints. The remaining trees were left to grow. Those and the Red Pine plantation were harvested in 2018/19 and the ground was scarified in 2020. Other former fields have almost all reverted to commercial and non-commercial forest species of varying ages. During our tenure, much of the wooded areas have been cut. Some clear-cut, some selective thinning cuts, with help from CVWPA.
What are your short-term goals for your woodlot (next 7 years)?
Replant the 2018/19 clear-cut area of Balsam Fir and Red Pine (with spruce and white pine).
To include a component of White Pine in a manner which will facilitate control of inevitable weevil attack
Pre-commercial thinning of hardwood regeneration in areas (that were previously) clear cut on Lot 58.
Attempt to establish suitable hardwood replacement for the expected loss of all ash trees due to emerald ash borer.
Presently attempting establishment of Red Oak by seeding of acorns on a trial basis.
Monitor beech regeneration for feasibility of encouraging strains resistant to the bark disease which infects the majority of beech trees.
Considering my age, arrange for the orderly transfer of ownership of the woodlot, hopefully within the family.
What are your mid-term goals for your woodlot (7–35 years)?
I would hope that the next owners are family members who will manage for a well-stocked forest of various age groups and diverse species native to the Acadian Forest or suitable for expected climate changes.
What are your long-term goals for your woodlot (35+ years)?
Basically, that the woodlot be fully stocked, tending more to climax species and aiming for a future harvest of greater value due to larger trees of higher quality. It is very difficult to predict what will be in demand for future markets and what future strains will occur from disease and climate change. The wisest approach will probably be to avoid reliance on one or a few products. Monoculture is very risky.
Have you previously taken your woodlot’s ability to adapt to future changing climate conditions into consideration?
No. Only in the last year, or so. The Federation’s seminar in Fredericton last year on this topic was an eye-opener for me. I now realize that this is important.
Do you think your woodlot will be resilient to NB’s changing climate conditions? Why?
There will always be trees of some kind in the woodlot. Will they be healthy? Will they be of commercial value? Will the species mix change? Will we continue to lose species due to imported diseases? Who can say for sure? But I do believe that we should plan and act based on best available information and forecasts.
Sample plot area implementation
Species summary pre-treatment
Size of sample plots
Species summary post-treatment
Treatments implemented by plot
Pre-commercially thin favouring traditional softwood species retaining hardwoods where no softwoods are present.
Climate adaptive treatment:
Pre-commercially thin favouring climate adaptive species such as sugar maple, and favouring hardwoods over softwoods. (i.e. White birch over balsam fir as in next rotation fir will regenerate in the shade and once again dominate whereas white birch will not be able to re-establish under the canopy of existing trees.
To create favourable growing conditions for the climate adaptive species and minimize balsam fir content.
Outcomes and monitoring progress
This section will be updated each time a site visit is made to measure the updated volumes and site conditions. The first anticipated update will be in fall of 2022, and then every five years afterwards.