public forested lands in Alberta were managed on a sustained yield basis, with
greater emphasis on timber use and values. The term sustained yield was defined
as "management of forested land for continuous production with the aim of
achieving a balance between net tree growth and harvest". Sustained yield
management also means that coniferous, deciduous and mixedwood forest would be
maintained in about the same proportion as they now exist in perpetuity.
The idea of
sustained yield management has shifted toward the broader approach called
ecological management. Ecological management recognizes that Alberta's forests
were created by disturbance regimes and that a balance of natural and human
disturbances will be required to maintain forest biodiversity in the future.
Using an ecological management approach, Albertans must plan their activities on
forest lands so they do not interfere with the ecosystem's ability to perpetuate
management is an evolving approach that focuses on ecological processes and ecosystem structures and functions, while sustaining the types of benefits that
people derive from the forest. This approach acknowledges the importance of all
species and the processes that support them in the soil, water and air. It
recognizes that ecosystems occur across the landscape, and the interconnections
between forest ecosystems, the economy and society. Ecological management is
based on the following concepts: maintaining the forest landbase, operating
within the range of natural variability, using an adaptive management approach,
changes in practices, and better forest planning.
The move to
ecological management is a continuous process. Human activities (like timber
harvesting) are sometimes carried out in such a way that their effects resemble
those of natural processes. Today, cutblocks often have irregular sizes and
shapes, and follow certain features of the landscape. Forest industry companies
often do studies of watersheds, wildlife habitats, and the ecological effects of
timber harvesting, to name a few. Forest management will continue to move toward
ecological management in the future. Forest management has to build on the
knowledge we gain from forest ecosystems, adapting to new information.
Ecological management will be a guide for us to help ensure that forests will
continue to exist for the future.
Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.