Definition of Intensive Silviculture :

The planting of short rotation, rapid-growth species to obtain the maximum harvest of wood fibre.

Intensive Silviculture in Quebec

Research in intensive silviculture in Quebec has existed for more than 30 years as a result of a program initiated by Gilles Vallée, former Minister of Energy and Resources in Quebec. This program involved two rapid-growth species, hybrid poplars and hybrid larches. The program of genetic improvement of these species still exits under the Direction of Forestry Research (DFR) of the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources (QMNR). At present, Pierre Périnoet and Martin Perron are responsible for research on poplars and larches, respectively, the latter having recently succeeded Ante Stipanicic who worked more than fifteen years on projects of genetic improvement of larches at the DFR for the QMNR.

The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has also been working for the last thirty years on genetic improvement of other rapid-growth species, Norway spruce and white spruce in particular. Researchers from both the CFS and the DFR have been working in close collaboration on projects involving these species.

Interest in the practical application of intensive silviculture is relatively recent. In the last few years the DFR has collaborated with a number of companies interested in planting rapid-growth species. Among the companies which planted more than 100 hectares of hybrid poplars in 2002 are : Domtar in Windsor (600 hectares), Fraser in the Outaouais (200 hectares), Tembec-Malette in Mauricie (100 hectares), and Louisiana-Pacific in Chambord (300 hectares).

At the present time, there is a certain interest in using intensive silviculture techniques. In this regard, the QMNR seems ready to establish a policy of increased yield in which it will evaluate the use of intensive silviculture. At the federal level, the Canadian Council of Ministers of Forests (CCMF), with its concept of Forest 2020, is speaking with citizens regarding the possible policy of planting rapid-gowth species on a small area of land.

The Quebec Intensive Silviculture Network was formed as a result of a grant from Valorisation-Recherche Quebec (VRQ) in November of 2001. There is a concerted effort among the interested parties to work together to coordinate and support already existing research efforts in Quebec and initiate new projects in the province in collaboration with universities, industrial partners, government departments and the private sector.

The motivation behind the creation of the Network was the need for the development of tools and innovative strategies to meet the anticipated lack of wood fibre in the coming years while meeting the demands of sustainable development. The TRIAD (or QUAD) provides a conceptual framework for the Network whereby intensive silviculture could provide a means of meeting this lack of fibre. The TRIAD (or QUAD) is based on the proposition of a new form of forest zoning to include : ecosystemic management (74%); complete protection (12%); intensive management (10%); intensive silviculture (4%). The research projects of the Network would focus on intensive silviculture.

General political context

In response to socio-economic pressures and the anticipated lack of wood, the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources, within the framework of revising the Laws pertaining to forests, is at the point of outlining a policy regarding increased yields. Forest productivity is expected to increase by 25% in the next 25 years through intensified forest management.

Amidst growing international pressures, Canada has begun to decrease cuts in natural or first-growth forests to meet the growing demand for wood. The mentality concerning the use of the forest is evolving as seen in the efforts toward sustainable development, which is defined as development which meets the aspirations and the present needs of human beings without compromising that of future generations (Brundtland report, 1987). Since 1990, the Canadian Council of Forestry Ministers (CCFM) has had a national strategy in which it has adopted the practice of sustainable forest management. This concept is defined as a means of managing the forest ecosystem which maintains both the health and integrity of the forest ecosystem while maintaining the socio-economic contribution of the forest (CCFM, 1997). More recently, with the concept of Forest 2020, the CCFM has invited input from the public regarding their opinion on sustainable development in the area of forestry where reforestation plays a significant role. This policy will work toward significantly increasing the yield per hectare in order to produce a greater proportion of wood from the least possibe land.

On an international scale, numerous countries, including New Zealand, the United States and France, have already reacted to the potential lack of wood. They have already begun the practice of commercial planting of rapid-growth species to relieve the pressure of harvesting from natural forests. According the the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (OFA, 1999), important commercial plantations of short-rotation, rapid-growth species would be initiated in the southern hemisphere within the next ten years constituting a major contribution to the potential increase in available wood production. These countries recognize that they cannot preserve the ecological integrity of their natural forests without considerable investment in intensive tree growth on a certain portion of land.

Based on this we suggest that new viable solutions must be found to alleviate a possible lack of wood fibre while taking into account the cultural, social, environmental and economic interests related to the Quebec forest. Intensive silviculture, or the use of rapid-growth species in short rotations, seems to present one of the most promising means to achieve this economic and environmental goal.

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