The Influence of Forest Harvesting Activities on Seismic Line Tree and Shrub Regeneration in Upland Mixedwood Boreal Forests

Angeline Van Dongen
Caren Jones
Amanda Schoonmaker
Jill Harvey
Dani Degenhardt
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Alberta’s forests are becoming increasingly disturbed and fragmented by the cumulative effects of anthropogenic disturbances exacerbated by the enduring footprint of seismic lines on the landscape. Forest harvesting and subsequent reforestation activities (e.g., site preparation and tree planting) may facilitate tree growth on seismic lines when forestry companies incorporate them into management areas. In this study, forest regeneration was assessed along transects on and off seismic lines within four cutblocks in northwestern Alberta. Tree, sapling, and shrub characteristics were measured, and tree cookies from a subset of trees on and off seismic lines were used to model height growth. No difference in total tree, sapling, or shrub counts on and off seismic lines was found although trees on seismic lines were growing at slightly slower rates compared to the adjacent cutblock, and Alnus viridis was more abundant on seismic lines. Our results suggest that, despite some species-level differences and modest differences in tree growth rates, trees on seismic lines within cutblocks are regenerating similarly to other trees growing in the post-harvest stand. These findings indicate that forest harvesting, and subsequent reforestation, could represent an important tool in conducting landscape-level restoration in mixedwood forests where seismic lines have not naturally recovered.