Research & Innovation

Research Leads to Innovation in the Forest

Research is playing a critical role in helping DMI develop new ways to manage the forest. As we gain new scientific knowledge and abilities, forest management is changing and adapting.

Since 1992, DMI has steadily increased its commitment to improving the way we manage the forest. To make improvements, DMI is funding many research programs, either independently or in conjunction with other companies, universities, government and research organizations. Over the years, DMI has invested over $3 million on 42 different research projects.

One example of the research work being done is the EMEND project (Ecological Management by Emulating Natural Disturbance). DMI and Canfor, Hines Creek are working with University of Alberta and Canadian Forest Service to explore how best to emulate and learn from forest fires. A team of more than 30 scientists are experimenting at the 1,000-hectare research site northwest of Peace River, Alberta.

Ecological management represents a very different way of managing our forests. What we are trying to do is manage and harvest the forest by mimicking the way the forest works naturally. If we can do that, we will be able to preserve the biological diversity that exists in our forests while continuing to ensure this valuable natural resource. In the face of nature’s workings, DMI sees itself as a modest witness and willing student.

Plants, animals and insects thrived during the past 10,000 years with forest fires. Recognizing that all living organisms – the flora and fauna – adapt to forests that have been created by fire and other disturbances, such as floods, insect outbreaks, and windstorms, DMI has chosen to devise a series of harvesting and regeneration strategies that “mimic” the patterns created by fire. What better way to manage the forest than by emulating the patterns they create?

The researchers are monitoring the re-growth of the forest after fires. Then they will compare what happens, for example, in a burned area against various harvesting treatments. We’re not just looking at how the trees regenerate. Some of the research will look at nutrient cycling, plant and animal establishment and insect diversity to see if it resembles natural disturbance. The physical size of the EMEND project as well as the variety of landscapes and forest types involved make EMEND unique. This is not the traditional type of research, which occurs on a small, highly controlled plot within the forest. This covers the whole landscape.

Another example is the work DMI is doing as part of a research co-operative to develop aspen trees with more resilience in the face of natural adversity. Just like putting money in a savings account, DMI wants to develop and safeguard a gene bank of the best aspen that will grow into sustainable forests. The improved aspen stock could mature in about 35 years as compared to today’s aspen maturity rate of 70 years. Not only are samples being selected from western Canadian aspen, we are developing fast growth hybrids for use on private land.

Our long-term goal is to create a dependable source of wood fibre that provides consistent quality for an intensively managed woodlot program.

Research is one more way DMI is continually improving as a responsible steward of the environment.