Fibre Supply

2016-2017 Projects

Click on each title below for project details

Direct Seeding for Cost-Effective Regeneration

The current reforestation challenges posed by wildfire and mountain pine beetle warrant the need for alternative regeneration strategies. Lack of seed sources often makes these large-scale disturbances unsuitable for natural regeneration and costly to plant. Direct seeding, the practice of sowing tree seeds with precision seeders in conjunction with mechanical site preparation can be a fast and cost-effective method of reforestation well-suited for these large disturbances. The practice, while still in early stages, has been well received by a large number of industry partners, yet more research is needed on what the conditions for guaranteed success are before direct seeding can be considered operational. Through monitoring of past trials, FPInnovations has identified some of the factors for success in direct seeding. We need continued systematic monitoring of these trials, as well as new studies to explore the success of direct seeding in new regions and types of sites. The objective is to identify the conditions, be it seeders, seed rates, sites, ecozones, and timing, among others, that lead to reforestation success. Reforestation in remote areas with no road access has logistical challenges and high reforestation costs. The use of a pre-seeded seed puck could help overcome these challenges by simplifying logistics and cutting seedling production costs. A prototype has been tested in the lab and in the field, yet improvements in recipe and field delivery methods need to be addressed before implementation.

  • Test direct seeding in a wide variety of regions and under different conditions.
  • Identify factors for success in direct seeding through continued monitoring of establishment success.
  • Further develop the concept of pre-seeded seed pucks in reforestation based on results from previous trials.

System Approach to Stand Regeneration

Successful stand regeneration that meets provincial and regional management objectives is achieved using a series of treatments. All the treatments in a silvicultural system have mutual impacts, starting from the selection of the harvesting technique to the final tending phase. This project will look at impacts of harvesting slash on regeneration success. On the steeper terrain along the southeast slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, reforestation success is often hampered by the lack of adequate protection from winter desiccation on the southwest aspect of these slopes due to chinook winds. Many companies in Alberta are affected by this issue and mortality rates as high as 30% have been observed on these sites, resulting in expensive reforestation programs including several replants. A study was conducted in 2015-2016 near Sundre Alberta to evaluate techniques to return roadside debris to the cutover area and to review the influence of the debris on the subsequent site preparation treatments. The second phase of the project aims to evaluate the ability of the slash to provide seedlings with shelter from the wind to improve survival and growth.

Heart-Rate and Activity Monitoring for Work Effort and Performance Management of Manual Operations

Manual silvicultural operations are very demanding, and tools to facilitate effort and performance management are needed to improve workers’ health and safety as well as working habits. Because of the workers’ high level of effort, heart monitors offer a potential solution as tracking devices. As the silvicultural workforce is getting older, effort management and safety issues are a growing concern. Conversely, the aging workforce does present opportunities as more experienced workers have developed efficient working habits that could be measured, documented and applied to new trainees. The absence of a tracking system for manual operations also makes control of the planting or tending operations by first-level supervision staff more challenging. Developing a rate structure for manual workers is very tedious and time consuming. A tracking tool would ease the process of establishing fair rates based on a greater sampling in various conditions for a portion of the cost of detailed timing studies. It would also be effective for worker self-improvement, cost control and for monitoring activities on the treated area. Sport watches are often equipped with GPS, accelerometers and heart rate monitoring tools for athletes to track their performances. These devices are also promising for tracking silvicultural workers. Initial testing with sound meters also showed a high potential for tracking brush-saw operations. However, the information and reports generated by these devices have not been adapted for those tasks. Field calibration is needed to determine the accuracy of “wearable” devices to estimate worker effort and performance.

  • Explore the possibility of using GPS receivers with heart monitors and movement detection (accelerometers) to measure silvicultural workers’ effort and performance.
  • Correlate detailed timing information to GPS-tracked movements, heart rate and sound meter data measured during a motor-manual silvicultural operation.
  • Determine if data captured by a camera or electronic glasses could also be an effective device for supporting worker decisions and assessing efficient work techniques.
  • Develop work element algorithms to generate tracking and performance reports specific for planting and precommercial thinning operations.
  • Validate work element algorithms for various workers and site conditions.
  • Develop guidelines based on heart rate monitoring results to help maintain effort while reducing the risk of injuries related to exhaustion or fatigue.
  • Document experienced workers’ habits that would be beneficial to new trainees.

Reducing the Impact of Caribou Guidelines on Fibre Costs

New woodland caribou habitat management guidelines being implemented in various provinces will have major impacts on harvesting activities in the Canadian boreal forest as this threatened species is particularly sensitive to habitat alterations related to forest harvest operations. The guidelines usually imply a much reduced road network deployment (or costly decommissioning) and large protected areas until green-up adjacencies are achieved. Harvesting activities will be possible if the permanent disturbances associated with roads and infrastructures meet target maximum thresholds.

  • To review the option of extending skidding/forwarding distances to reduce road spacing and density of road network.
  • To develop cost-effective harvesting strategies to reduce the road network deployment in operating areas that overlap with woodland caribou habitat.

Contractor Sustainability

To help industry in increasing the operational efficiency and financial success of its wood fibre producers, a business skills workshop and a contractor diagnostic package were successfully developed in 2014-2015. In 2015-2016, a large number of these were given across the country, and several diagnostics were conducted as well. Several member companies have expressed interest in these, and a number of fee-for-service opportunities have also been identified through various provincial funding envelopes. There is a need to consolidate these offerings in a service package aimed at increasing overall contractor sustainability. Partnerships with local stakeholders such as training institutions and consultants specialized in continuous improvement need to be explored.

  • Continue providing the workshop and diagnostic services to members and other clients, and continue updating/improving the content/material.
  • Increase delivery capacity by mentoring key FPI regional staff in the delivery and maintenance of these two service packages.

Margin Improvements in Partial Cuts of Acadian Forests

Partial cuts now represent a significant portion of the harvesting prescriptions, especially in the eastern part of the country including Quebec and Atlantic Canada. In the Maritimes, the highly heterogeneous nature of the Acadian forest presents many challenges from a harvesting perspective, especially when partial cutting prescriptions are required. The Northern Hardwood Research Institute, based out of Edmundson, N.B. has been developing a tolerant hardwood-mixedwood silvicultural reference manual. Part of this manual covers the operational aspects of partial cutting in these stands and is being developed by FPInnovations. It covers the logging method (trail network and tree selection process) and cost estimates for the typical treatments proposed for hardwood forests on crown land. The field validation of some of the proposed approaches will help strengthen and fine-tune the operational guidelines. One question that needs to be verified is the preparation of receptive seed beds with existing cut-to-length systems in seed tree cuts since these systems typically do not generate significant amounts of disturbed mineral soil.

  • To provide additional field data to validate and complete the NB Tolerant Hardwood Silvicultural Guide.
  • To verify the suitability of seed bed preparation with CTL systems in seed tree cuts.

onless Navigation

Methods to reduce fibre acquisition costs continue to be an issue of top priority for the forestry industry. The development of advanced remote sensing techniques, as well as the affordability and ease of use of onboard GPS navigation and productivity tracking systems such as the FPDat have led to greater uptake in the interest of ribbonless navigation. By using on-board navigation systems coupled with high accuracy GPS units and accurate shapefiles, companies can spend less time and money laying out blocks with conventional flags. Instead, operators can rely on the screen in front of them to alert them of their position, rather than looking for ribbons.

  • To field test high-end systems such as the FPDat, LimGeomatics system, as well as lower-end solutions such as Avenza Map paired with an iPad and consumer grade external GPS unit.
  • Determine the variability in each of these systems, so that planners can calculate the necessary buffers that would need to be applied around hard boundaries such as property lines and Areas of Concern (AOCs) to ensure no infractions could be incurred.
  • To develop standard operating procedures and proper operator training to assist industry in adopting these systems.

Increasing Machine Utilization in Harvest Operations

Operator training and improved machine utilization are two ways to improve the economic performance of harvesting operations. Proper management tools are needed to track production performance and machine availability. FPInnovations has developed the FPDat/FPTrak technology platform to help operations track utilization and implement continuous improvement strategies. The use of on-board computers such as the FPDat has been strong in some regions (e.g. Atlantic Canada) but weaker in other regions such as Ontario and BC. There is a need for local demonstration of the technology and the value that it can bring to both the contractors and the forest companies.

  • To showcase the use of FPDat units freshly installed in logging machines in those regions where uptake has been slow in order to demonstrate the benefits in increasing machine utilization and reducing harvesting costs.

Integrating Climate Change Mitigation within the Framework of Forest Biomass Sustainability

Forests play an important role in mitigating climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it. However, currently, most logging residuals and unmerchantable trees are piled and burned at the roadside, ultimately reducing the climate-mitigating effects of Canadian forests. Efforts are constantly made by both public and private organizations, to identify solutions to reduce GHG emissions throughout the forest to market supply chains: from silviculture and harvesting to transportation, processing, delivery, use and disposal. Although greatly beneficial to society, these climate change mitigation solutions are not always scrutinized for their sustainability. Forest biomass recovery operations must now demonstrate that they maintain the overall sustainability of forest sites from which they are removed. In Nova Scotia, for example, the use of harvesting residues was banned because of nutrient depletion concerns. Across Canada concerns about reducing biodiversity by removing coarse woody debris have also been expressed. If not carefully managed, additional traffic from biomass collection and grinding activities to recover logging residues may also cause soil damage such as rutting and compaction. FPInnovations has made important advancements in the sustainability arena through the use of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and sustainability impact assessment (SIA) tools. This year, FPI will start engaging the Canadian Forest Service’s Climate Change Group and EcoTrust Canada in these research efforts. This new project is related to and builds upon earlier projects funded under the FRII program, and aims to expand upon the existing outcomes and give a new and important direction.

  • Analyze the integration of climate change mitigation objectives within the framework of forest biomass sustainability.
  • Assess, improve, and maintain the sustainability of Canadian biomass supply chains.
  • Support the Canadian forestry sector in its efforts to develop sustainable operation and product certification strategies.
  • Contribute to improving the business and policy environment for the use of solid biomass fuels in remote communities and commercial/institutional applications.

Best Management Practices for Integrated Biomass Harvesting in BC

The project aims to develop biomass handling guidelines that outline suggested step-by-step processes to be followed by the primary and secondary industry that will lead to increased utilization of lower quality fibre that remains on a block after primary harvesting is complete. These guidelines will be integrated into larger best management practices for integrated operations in BC that will support the integrated harvesting of biomass as part of the traditional sawlog supply chain. Furthermore, the project includes a consultation with both primary and secondary harvesters on a 1st draft of the guidelines and subsequent implementation in up to three different case studies in different regions and conditions.

  • Biomass handling guidelines that will be incorporated into larger best management practices for integrated harvest operations in BC.
  • Up to three implementation studies with primary and secondary industry in different regions of BC involving various primary and secondary stakeholders (e.g., OSB, pellets).

Sustainable Biomass Supply Systems for the Canadian Bioeconomy

Well-functioning biomass supply systems need to ensure the availability of adequate volumes of biomass at the right quality produced by efficient technology. The Canadian bioeconomy consisting mostly of biomass power and pellet producers is facing the challenge to develop supply systems that combine all these factors into holistic cost-effective supply systems that serve customers with different needs and fuel requirements. As the bioeconomy in Canada is growing, there is an increasing demand for biomass. However, the availability of biomass is limited, particularly around population centres and around traditional forest industries. Consequently, there is increasing competition for a limited supply of biomass. The amount of fibre available to a specified delivery point, with specific characteristics and at desired price points is important information for the establishment of new plants and their scale of operation because fibre costs can represent 40 to 50% or more of production costs. Governments and investors require assurance that long-term supplies of biomass are available within a targeted cost to attract capital. Moisture content is a key characteristic determining forest-origin calorific value for thermal pathways. FPInnovations has demonstrated through previous TT investments that there is the potential to reduce moisture content by 10 to 30% in harvest residues by proper piling and covering. However, biomass originating from industrial processes such as hog fuel or bark is often of high moisture content but can only be used by industry if the moisture content is reduced. As a result FPInnovations is planning to work with industry to develop practical methods to reduce moisture content during storage.

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  • gate the integration of a biomass press to reduce moisture content of biomass in Canadian supply chains.
  • Develop harvest systems for fire killed stands.
  • Develop innovative storage solutions that support the moisture content reduction of hog fuel for biomass power producers.
  • Investigate the applicability of moisture meter technologies for the Canadian forest sector.

Logyard Best Management Practices

As the bio-economy in Canada is growing, there is increased demand for biomass. However, the availability of biomass is limited, particularly around population centres and around traditional forest industry hubs. Consequently, there is increasing competition for a limited supply of biomass. As a result, biomass users are looking at existing biomass sources that have previously been neglected due to a lack of market or contamination. Heritage piles and process residues coming from different forest sector operations, such as sortyards, are examples of such biomass sources. Some of these biomass sources will be viable if they can be upgraded to meet the demands of the biomass industry at a reasonable cost. However, innovative solutions are needed to upgrade these sources of biomass to a suitable fuel. Process residues pose an ongoing challenge for the forest industry as they have traditionally been disposed of in landfills. However, the cost of landfilling has increased significantly in the last number of years and many landfills have reached their capacity. Since the cost and regulatory hurdles of establishing new landfills are often prohibitive, alternative solutions for the disposal of these process residues are needed. There has been considerable interest from forest companies (West Fraser, Canfor, Millar Western) in separating these “waste” streams into different products that can be either recycled or used for bioenergy production. FPInnovations has been reviewing these technologies over the past two years and this project aims to summarize the knowledge and expertise gained into best management practices that industry can use.

  • Summarize existing state-of-the-art knowledge and combine that with knowledge gained from FPInnovations trials into comprehensive best management practices that can be used by industry.