2003 Winner: Al-Pac Integrated Landscaping Management
Largest Forestry Project In The World Finds Home In Northern Alberta
In sheer scope and size, the Ecological Management Emulating Natural Disturbance (EMEND) Project currently underway in northern Alberta is one of the largest and most innovative single-site forestry experiments in the world. EMEND is a long-term study comparing the outcomes of harvest and regenerative practices in the boreal mixed wood forest with landscapes that come about through wildfire and other natural disturbances.
The aim is to find out which practices best emulate nature in terms of maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem. EMEND also assesses the economic viability and social acceptability of these “best practices” using “trade-off” models that measure costs or gains associated with various forest management systems and levels of forest disturbance. EMEND helps address both timber and non-timber values – a cornerstone of integrated landscape management.
The study is led by the University of Alberta, Canadian Forest Service (CFS), Daishowa-Marubeni International (DMI) Ltd., and Canadian Forest Products (Canfor) Ltd. and involves a broad collaboration among partners from the forest industry, the provincial and federal governments, and research organizations, including six universities. The industry partners provide funding, infrastructure support, forest inventory information and expertise. The University of Alberta and CFS were responsible for the research methodology and for conducting initial benchmarking inventories. CFS maintains the project database and leads the technology transfer efforts. Undergraduate and graduate students – tomorrow’s forest managers – are gaining first-hand experience working as part of the multi-disciplinary team.
EMEND is innovative in many aspects. The project has a 100-year timeframe and is believed to be the only study ever undertaken to monitor the effects of disturbance over the life cycle of the forest. EMEND also employs innovative ways to transfer technology to industry, including field tours and a web site. Knowledge from EMEND will have direct application not only to the forest industry but to regulators and certification agencies. Data from the project will help measure carbon fluxes in the boreal forest to determine effects of industrial uses of the forest landscape on climate change.
Research from the first seven years of the EMEND project is already paying benefits in terms of more effective integrated resource management policies and practices. The project attracts visiting researchers and policy makers from around the world, and its experimental design has been emulated in the United States and in FennoScandia, a series of natural areas along the Finnish-Russian-Norwegian border.