NW Week

Serve various purposes in the N.W.T.’ fight against climate change

N.W.T.' fight against climate change

Key Takeaways:

  • A pilot project near Sandy Lake aims to double pine tree carbon storage.
  • A six crew from Smith’s Landing First Nation cut down trees, hauled them out of the forest, and set fire to piles of pruned brush just south of the NWT border.

According to Becky Kostka, the First Nation’s lands and resources manager, forest thinning strategy. The community received funding from the Forest Resources Improvement Association of Alberta to use it on 7 hectares of forested land in Fort Fitzgerald.

She explained that the area was chosen for the FireSmart program because of the density of fast-burning spruce trees in the area and their proximity to people’s homes.

Crew members have been cutting down trees so that their crowns are three meters apart, pruning trees up to six meters, and clearing away ladder fuels, which are highly flammable vegetation, living or dead, that would allow the fire to climb from the forest floor and into the tree canopy and become more intense, she said.

According to her, the goal is to create space within the forest that will slow the spread of a massive fire.

“Previously, if you stood in Fitzgerald and looked to the forest, you couldn’t see through the forest,” Kostka explained. “Now, as the crew works, you can see further and further into the forest.”

Forest thinning is similar to low-intensity burns, also known as cultural burns, which were intentionally lit by Indigenous peoples worldwide to rebalance ecosystems. Next year, he said, sampling plots will be set up in thinned and unthinned areas to monitor tree growth and determine if that goal is met.

Trees can sometimes emit more carbon than they absorb due to wildfires and natural die-off. Lakusta claims that when wildfires are light, the entire territory sequesters more carbon than it emits, but it becomes a carbon source when there is a heavy fire year.

He says that understanding how much carbon is stored in the natural environment and the risks those stores face is a “kind of new goal” for Canadian and global forestry management.

Source: CBC News

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