Like any good field tour day, it started early on a sunny and soon to be very hot (30°C) and smoky day in Peace River. The group gathered for a 7:30 am departure for the EMEND (Ecosystem-based Management Emulating Natural Disturbance) field camp, where introductions were made, partner perspectives were shared (fRI Research has supported EMEND since its inception, 22–23 years ago), overviews provided, and safety briefings given.
The group again gathered, donned hats (new Mercer ball caps graciously provided by Mercer), sunscreen and bug spray applied, and off we went to the experiment site—1,000 ha in size. The EMEND research site is located in the western boreal forest about 80 km from Peace River.
The tour consisted of walking tours of the treatment sites so that the group could get a “boots on the ground” perspective of how and why EMEND was put in place. Our tour guides consisted of Ellen Macdonald: U of A, Derek Sidders: NRCAN, David Langor: NRCAN, Jamie Pinzon: NRCAN, and Amy Hayden: U of A. A great number of our tour guides were the key architects and researchers of the study, so the breadth of knowledge, was impressive and very comprehensive.
The tour also had a helicopter overview of the site. On my flight, I was struck by the forest’s ability to regenerate so quickly and how after 20 years, from the air (and a layman’s perspective) it was hard to distinguish between many of the different treatment areas.
The emend experiment is a project designed at the cutblock level to document the response of ecological processes to variable retention and fire treatments. fRI Research also carries out research in the area of natural disturbance, through our Healthy Landscapes Program, led by David Andison. The scale of fRI Research’s program is a much larger landscape, look so the focuses of each are different. This difference speaks to the value of partnership between fRI Research, EMEND, and its partners to collaborate to better understand multiple levels of natural disturbance and what each research focus can tell us about forest harvest treatments that look to emulate natural disturbances, like fire.
More about EMEND
Video from Lessons from Nature