As part of the Canadian Carbon Program (CCP), Environment Canada agreed to support a collaborative effort to install and run high-precision carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide measurements at a eastern boreal flux site located near Chibougamau, QU. Dr. Hank Margolis at the Univrsity of Laval in Quebec City is the lead PI for this flux measurement site
--------- Background Information for the Quebec Flux Station-------
Within eastern Canada's boreal forest, black spruce feathermoss systems dominate much of the landscape. These systems sometimes include a significant quantity of jack pine. Located in a cool and humid climatic region, this flux station provides an interesting contrast to the black spruce flux sites running in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Until recently, the principal natural disturbance in black spruce feathermoss systems has been wildfire with return intervals ranging between 50 and 150 years. However, forest harvest activities in the boreal forest of eastern Canada have increased steadily over the past 30 years and are now a more common disturbance than fire for a significant portion of Quebec's boreal forest. This forest is a very important economic resource, supporting a large industry based on the production of both construction materials and paper products. In Quebec, the overwhelming majority of forestry takes place on crown lands. The provincial government provides a long-term lease to one or more forest companies who are then responsible for managing a given area on a sustained yield basis. With time, increasingly larger percentages of these areas become impacted by management activities and over the next 50 years, this will approach 100%. Thus, developing a scientific foundation for the management of carbon in Canada's forests requires that we better understand how management activities in this region influence the cycling and sequestration of carbon.
The forests in this region are undergoing constant changes due to sylvicultural and management strategies. Since 1990, cutting with protection of regeneration and soils (CPRS) has become the most common harvesting system. In a classic CPRS, logging equipment is restricted to about 30% of the surface area so that the organic layer on the remaining 70% of the area is not disturbed. The skid trails are usually planted with seedlings that are smaller than the natural regeneration. When the amount of natural regeneration is not adequate, sites are either partially or totally scarified, then planted. While the impacts of these treatments on carbon cycling are not known, they are likely significant. A large challenge to understanding and predicting the overall effects of forest management treatments on carbon cycling in this region is that the effects are highly local, and are the result of the interaction among stand properties, site properties, climate, and the type of management action. Since the operational forestry procedures change with time, understanding how a specific treatment influences carbon exchange is not sufficient. Rather, the critical need is to understand how management treatments influence environmental variables in the region, and how these, in turn influence photosynthesis, respiration, productivity, and net C exchange.
The Quebec flux station will make long-term measurements of carbon exchange in a mature stand and a recent CPRS site (disturbed). Measurements of ecosystem components will allow us to understand and model the effects of harvest and climate. Eddy covariance measurements on the CPRS site began in August 2001 and measurements at the mature site (undisturbed) began in June 2003.