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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Forests > Resource Development > Future Directions > Increased Timber

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Increased Timber

The Results of LoggingGiven the changing demands on forests and the need to manage this resource in a sustainable manner, can Alberta's current level of harvest be maintained or increased? One way to increase timber supply is through enhanced forest management, which includes weeding, thinning, fertilizing and a greater reliance on planting genetically improved trees. All of these activities are aimed at improving the regeneration of commercial tree species. Intensively managed plantations could provide higher volumes of timber per hectare than natural forests, and require less land to produce given volume of wood. However, these silviculture treatments are expensive and would only be cost-effective on the most productive sites near mills.

Although more intensive forest management could lead to an increase in allowable harvest levels, many companies are reluctant to make this investment on land they do not own without a long-term guarantee of the right to harvest the trees grown. Alberta is trying a new arrangement with companies holding forest management agreements, allowing the flexibility to harvest any additional timber that results in an increase in their silviculture investment. Intensive silviculture presents some challenges for ecological management of forests because it relies on more human intervention and greater use of plantations, fertilizers and herbicides. Several forest industry companies are conducting research and trials to find the best methods to increase timber supply in some areas, while managing extensive areas as forest ecosystems.

Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.

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