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  Home>> Natural Heritage>> Natural Resources>> Forests

Forests

Mixed ForestForested lands in Alberta occupy about 60 percent of the total provincial area. Approximately 351,000 square kilometres of the total forested area is located within the Green Area. Of this, approximately 64 percent, or 225,000 square kilometres, is timber-productive forest.

In Alberta's forests White spruce, Black Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, Jack Pine, Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir and Tamarack are the most common coniferous species. Aspen, Balsam Poplar and White Birch are the most common deciduous species.

In Alberta, areas designated for harvest are usually cut in two stages, or "passes." In the first pass, one half of the merchantable timber is logged using a patchwork pattern designed to fit into the landscape. The pattern alternates between harvested patches ("cutblocks"), and unharvested patches ("leave blocks") of similar size. The leave blocks are harvested in the second stage, 10 to 20 years later when the cutblocks harvested in the first pass are growing well again as new forests.

The seedlings of some tree species, like Lodgepole Pine and Aspen, have adapted to open conditions. For this reason, the two-pass system tends to be the most economical and appropriate technique for harvesting these types of forests. Harvesting must be done properly, in accordance with provincial legislation and policy, in order to protect sensitive watersheds and the ecosystems of rivers.

Foresters are adopting new strategies like ecosystem management and sustainable forestry that will ensure our forests, including the trees, wildlife, and water, will survive well into the future. But will this new sustainable forestry mean smaller clearcuts or even larger clearcuts? Listen to this special episode of CKUA's Ecofiles radio series! [Listen]

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