Forested 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
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.