When the Fundy Model Forest (FMF) opened in 1992, the need for research that investigated the long term impacts of forest practices on multiple plants and animals on the same land base, simultaneously, was identified. During 1992, a partnership was formed within the FMF that included researchers (partners included the University of New Brunswick Fredericton, University of New Brunswick Saint John, University of Moncton, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and, Fundy National Park) and J.D. Irving, the land managers. Two watersheds were identified (Holmes and Hayward) and a protocol for the cause and effect research was established.
In 1993, the first year of the controlled study, researchers surveyed pre-harvest conditions and post-harvest impacts of forest practices on a host of indicators: water quality, fish populations, plant communities, bryophyte communities and small mammal populations. Much of the research was published in refereed scientific journals and was used to inform public policy for the management of New Brunswick’s forests.
20 years later
In 2014, the Hayward and Holmes Brook sites were revisited. In most cases the sites, were 20 years post-harvest. The researchers: Dr. Kate Frego of UNB Saint John and Dr. Alyre Chiasson of the University of Moncton, conducted part of the original study. The current surveys focused on bryophyte and aquatic communities. The original research results showed:
The results of the immediate impacts of forest practices were that the Bryophyte communities showed compositional change over 4 years, even in areas that were not harvested. Although species richness was maintained or recovered 4 years after harvest, changes in species composition were significant in all disturbance classes with greatest change related to forest floor disturbance. In particular, liverworts were lost in areas with forest floor disturbance. (Fenton, Frego and Sims 2003)
The primary results of Bourque and Pomeroy (2001) found that buffer strips placed along the main stream branches had little or no effect when the stream water had already been warmed as a result of deforestation in the upper catchment. No relationship between buffer width and stream warming was found. Water temperatures ranges were still within ideal values for brook trout, though rates of daily changes were not noted. Brook trout populations were highly variable and no differences in population levels or habitat were detected (Melanson 2000).
Stay tuned for results from the 2014-2016 studies.