11th North American Forest Ecology Agenda 

Sunday June 18, 2017

Registration, ice-breaker reception, and cash bar. 18:00-21:00 h.

Monday June 19 , Tuesday June 20 and Thursday 22, 2017

Plenary, Concurrent and Poster Sessions

Tuesday June 20, 2017: Banquet

Wednesday June, 21st, 2017. In Conference Field Trips (TBA).



Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to announce the following keynote talks (note titles for the talks are tentative; scheduling of these talks is to be determined):

Research and practice in forest conservation and restoration in north Europe.Lena Gustafsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala

Lena Gustafsson, SLU

Lena Gustafsson, SLU

Silviculture in the face of future uncertainty: is the past still relevant?Tony D’Amato, University of Vermont, BurlingtonTony D'Amato

If we plant, what should we plant?  Matching seed sources to new climates. – Sally Aitken, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Aitken - head shot Martin Dee 2015

Anticipation Ecology: Determining When and How to Initiate Forest Restoration and Reclamation.Stephen Murphy,  School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability, University of Waterloo




NAFEW 2017 In-Conference Field Trips Wednesday June 21, 2017

The following in-conference tours are available.  Please indicate you tour preference on your registration form (indicate first, second and third choice). 

A. Ecology and Sustainable Management of Mixedwood Forests.  This tour will visit an area near Fawcett Lake, located in the Central Mixedwood Natural Subregion, ~2 hours north of Edmonton.  We will talk about the forests in this area the ecology and management of mixtures of trembling aspen and white spruce.  We will see and discuss regeneration of aspen, spruce and mixedwood stands and associated silviculture practices and we will discuss the role of fire and fire management. Sustainable forest management and forest management planning in the area will be explored. Lunch is planned for the shores of Fawcett Lake (weather permitting). Tour Leader: Phil Comeau

B. Aspen and Bison Management in Elk Island National Park.  This tour will visit Elk Island National park one hour east of Edmonton in the heart of the Aspen Parkland Ecoregion. This park is home to free roaming herds of both plains and wood bison along with numerous other wildlife including elk, moose and deer. On this tour we will discuss the ecology and management of aspen and mixedwood forests, wetlands, bison, and recreational use. There will also be a short 4 km hike (over gentle terrain), lunch near the interpretive centre at Astotin Lake, and a bison handling demonstration with parks staff. Tour Leader: Brad Pinno.

C. Alberta Tree Improvement and Seed Centre (ATISC) and Smoky Lake Nursery. Both the ATISC and nursery are located near Smoky Lake Alberta, ~2.5 hrs northeast of Edmonton. At ATISC participants will visit the provincial seed bunker, seed research lab, and a commercial seed orchard.  Our Nursery visit will showcase commercial production of ~60 species of native shrubs used in reclamation along with millions of lodgepole pine and white spruce seedlings grown for reforestation. Lunch will be provided on-site. Tour Leaders: Barb Thomas and Simon Landhausser.

D. Edmonton’s Urban Forests and Urban Forestry. Edmonton’s urban forest contributes to quality of life for its residents and visitors.  The North Saskatchewan River valley is a significant feature of the city and contains Canada’s largest expanse of urban parkland (7400 ha and 48 km in length) and includes 22 ravines that form the fabric of the city.  The urban forest extends into the built-up city through neighbourhood parks and boulevard trees and includes one of the largest surviving populations of urban American Elm in North America. On this tour we will visit some of these areas and discuss the challenges of managing this urban forest including rewilding of park areas, forest insect and disease issues, and urban wildlife. Lunch will be provided on-site. Tour Leader: John Stadt and City of Edmonton staff.

E. Poplar Genetics and Management.  This tour will visit the research fields of Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., located ~2.5 hrs northeast of Edmonton,  showcasing their hybrid poplar breeding program, a pure balsam poplar tree improvement program designed for use on their wider forest management area and several other exotic and native species of poplars, aspens and birch. Lunch will be provided on-site.  Tour Leader: Barb Thomas. (note – this in conference tour was added to our program on April 6).


For all tours we recommend that participants bring suitable footwear (for light hiking), and light rainwear (this is the beginning of our “rainy” season – so it can rain).

1981-2010 Climate Normals for Edmonton: Average June temperatures are 15.5C (min=9.9C, max=21.0C).  June total precipitation averages 77.5 mm.

(go to:  Environment Canada)



Post-conference tour:  to Fort McMurray to learn about Oilsands activities and reclamation.  This tour will depart from Edmonton on June 23 and return to Edmonton the evening of June 25.  Cost the tour will be approximately $500/person (double occupancy) or $700 (single occupancy) to cover transportation, accommodation (2 nights; Friday and Saturday) and some meals.  This tour is being organized by Simon Landhausser and Brad Pinno.  (Note:  we have had to cancel our planned post-conference tour to the Rocky Mountains, and the one day post conference tour to the Alpac research fields).


Special Sessions at NAFEW 2017

The following sessions have been accepted and will be included in the program.

Scheduling of sessions is still to be determined.


Session Title: Post-harvest resilience, ecosystem memory and management of biological legacies

 Session Summary: This session will summarize the ecosystem resilience framework based on the developing concept of ecosystem memory, and present approaches for including it in effective management of biological legacies in newly harvested North American and heavily managed European forests.

Principal Organizers:

Colin Bergeron, University of Alberta,

Jaime Pinzon, University of Alberta,


  • Jerry Franklin (University of Washington) – Ecosystem continuity: the critical role of biological legacies in nature and in management
  • Jaime Pinzon and Colin Bergeron (University of Alberta) – Variable retention harvesting, biological legacies and ecosystem memory in relation to improving forest resilience?
  • Gordon Whitmore (Daishowa Marubeni International Ltd.) – Industrial practices to improve forest resilience via management of biological legacies
  • Mathieu Bouchard (Quebec, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs) – Provincial forest management, a landscape approach to management of biological legacies
  • Matti Koivula (University of Eastern Finland) – Applying principles of ecosystem memory to restore resilience in heavily managed forests of Fennoscandia

Session Description: Forest disturbances leave a heterogeneous mosaic of biological legacies (Lindenmayer and Franklin 2002) that contribute to structural and functional recovery of post-disturbance ecosystems (Turner et al. 1998). These legacies of pre-disturbance environments provide a sort of ‘ecosystem memory’ that guides post-disturbance reorganization toward the variation of pre-disturbance baselines. Management of biological legacies that fosters ecological memory in disturbed areas will improve resilience and decrease the risk of unacceptable changes in structure and function of forest ecosystems in the face of global environmental change (Johnstone et al. 2016). The overarching goal of this session is to show that biological legacies can be managed to improve post-disturbance forest resilience.

In our first keynote presentation (30 min), Dr. Jerry Franklin, author of the foundational work in this field, will summarize the relevant concepts and provide links among forest resilience, biological legacies and ecosystem memory. This presentation will demonstrate that ecosystem memory acquired via persistence of biological legacies contributes to the reorganization of forest ecosystem toward a pre-disturbance equilibrium state. The talk will also underscore the fact that loss of ecosystem memory generates a resilience debt that may trigger abrupt shifts in forest ecosystems, and that unpredictable characteristics of individual disturbances, interactions among disturbances and climate variability collectively affect ecosystem resilience. This developing ecosystem resilience framework will be illustrated with examples mostly from North American disturbances, as drawn largely from his upcoming new book entitled “Ecological Forest Management”. The talk will suggest how biological legacies may be used to help resource managers anticipate and foster forest resilience.

The four following talks (15 min each) will link concepts presented by Dr. Franklin to applications in boreal forest management. The first talk will show how ecosystem based management via variable retention harvesting at the EMEND site can be used as a strategy to promote the use of biological legacies in post-harvest stands and foster ecosystem memory in several ecosystem components. The following talk will exemplify how best industrial forestry practices may be implemented on the ground via variable retention harvesting in order to promote biological legacies in post-harvest stands. The third talk will present a perspective on how ecosystem based forest management is being promoted, implemented and regulated by the government of Quebec in order to foster ecosystem resilience. The fourth talk will outline how principles of ecosystem memory are being applied to restore resilience in heavily managed boreal forests of northern Europe.

Finally, the 30-min discussion will be devoted to specific points such as:  The role of ecosystem memory in forest restoration; Application of strategies and concepts to other disturbances (e.g. energy sector); and, questions and general discussion.


Session Title: A North American Aspen Transect: applied functional ecology north to south

Session Summary: Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) occurs across the continent, but displays different functional qualities under widely varying conditions.  Not only do diverse ecologies affect aspen, but a lengthy list of human-induced alterations present challenges for the sustainable management of these keystone systems.  In the spirit of bridging science-stewardship divides, this session will explore practical, ecologically-based, actions to restore resilience in systems threatened by climate change, herbivory, land conversion, past management, residential development, and other practices.

Principal Organizers:

Paul Rogers, Utah State University,

Brad Pinno, Canadian Forest Service,


  • Paul Rogers (Utah State University) and Brad Pinno (Canadian Forest Service) – Applied functional ecology in quaking and trembling aspen: one size does not fit all
  • Ruth Errington and Brad Pinno (Canadian Forest Service) – Disturbance recovery of understory plant communities in natural and reconstructed boreal aspen stands
  • Edward Bork and Barry Irving  (U of Alberta) – The evolution of grazing management within central Alberta’s aspen forests
  • Sophan Chhin (West Virginia Univ.) and G. Geoff Wang (Clemson Univ.)- Climate change and weather impacts on aspen forest communities in the parkland and prairie region of southern Manitoba
  • Douglas Shinneman and Susan McIlroy (U.S. Geological Survey) – Aspen stability and regeneration dynamics in isolated mountain ranges of the Great Basin, U.S.A
  • Kristen Waring (Northern Arizona Univ.) – Management of aspen forests in the southwest

Session Description: In the spirit of bridging science-stewardship divides, this session will explore practical, ecologically-based, actions to restore resilience in systems threatened by climate change, herbivory, land conversion, past management, residential development, and other practices.  In harmony with NAFEW’s overarching charge, we will recruit presentations along a broad geographic transect from the boreal north, along the spine of the Canadian-USA Rocky Mountains, to the desert plateaus of the Southwest.  Our mission will be to explore both common and novel aspen communities where the research frontier can inform more appropriate ‘functional ecology’ management.  A driving paradigm in forest ecology is emulation of natural processes in practical applications. This session will take that approach for aspen ecosystems to the next level: through presentations and a summary discussion we aim to match current ecological understanding with practical forest application.  Our ‘transect’ motif will ensure the widest geographic diversity in order to expand attendees’ knowledge of North American aspen conditions and practices.  Our hope is that through thoughtful information exchange participants will come away with a trove of new management tools and insights, technical resources, and professional connections for addressing aspen resource issues at local, regional, and continental scales.


Session Title: Establishing ecological impacts and thresholds for harvesting of woody bioenergy

Session Summary: To evaluate whether forest biomass can be considered a sustainable approach for climate change mitigation, we will provide recent empirical evidence from a large number of species groups on the ecological effects of biomass removal that can be used to develop specific targets for deadwood retention.

Principal Organizers:

Timothy Work, Université du Québec à Montréal,

Lisa Vernier, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Region,


  • Lisa Venier (Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Region) – Biodiversity response to biomass harvesting – the Island Lake Biomass Harvest Experiment
  • Timothy Work (Université du Québec à Montréal) – There are limited impacts of the full-tree harvest on colonization and emergence dynamics of saproxylic beetles in residual stumps
  • Jörgen Rudolphi (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet) – No support for long-term effects of commercial tree-stump harvest on understory vegetation
  • Laurent Rousseau (Université du Québec à Montréal) – Long-term responses of soil mesofauna communities to woody debris biomass harvesting in an eastern Canadian boreal forest
  • Anouschka Hof (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet) – Simulating the impact of bioenergy extraction on habitat suitability for species on a landscape scale
  • Jesse Hogue (Laurentian University) – Developing a metabarcoding strategy for soil mesofaunal communities to monitor the ecological impacts of intensified biomass harvesting in forestry
  • Joakim Hjältén (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet) – Bioenergy extraction and saproxylic biodiversity: strategies and thresholds for stump harvesting
  • Cédric Boué (Université du Québec à Montréal) – Impacts of full-tree harvesting on fungal diversity in residual stumps

 Session Description: Effective climate change mitigation depends heavily on the development of alternative energy sources other than fossil carbon. In wood-producing countries, energy production will be based in part on woody biomass from residuals of forest harvest including slash, downed deadwood and stumps. For resident biodiversity, biomass harvesting may pose a significant conservation risk that will be realized long before observable effects of climate change. Thus sustainable approaches to climate mitigation will depend on clear evaluations of the impacts of biomass removal as well as empirically derived targets for deadwood retention.

In this symposium we have selected examples of ongoing research on ecological impacts from biomass removal experiments in conifer forests of North America and Northern Europe.  These projects draw from different perspectives in each region that compliment the theme of this year’s NAFEW. In the North American case studies, where biomass harvesting has only recently been considered, much of the research is conservation oriented and focus on maintaining species and ecological legacies. In contrast, in case studies from Northern Europe with a longer history of biomass harvesting, much of the emphasis is on restoration of habitat elements and increasing populations of red-listed species.

The research profiled in this symposium spans a variety of taxa including wood-inhabiting fungi (Boué), soil-mesofauna (Hogue, Rousseau), litter-dwelling arthropods (Vernier), saproxylic insects (Work, Hjaltén) and herbaceous plants (Rudolphi) and thus will be useful ecosystem-level impacts of biomass harvesting. It will also provide the opportunity to compare and evaluate novel approaches to biodiversity assessment and ecologically relevant guidelines for how best (or whether) to implement biomass harvesting. For example, Hogue and Rousseau will provide possibly contrasting visions of soil mesofaunal response that stem from both molecular and morphological approaches to species identification. Rousseau will also provide evidence of the relative merits of a traditional taxonomic approach to biodiversity inventories as compared to an approach based on functional traits. Work will provide a novel approach to assessing habitat quality in stumps based on colonization/emergence rates. Based on abstracts we will develop a list of questions to be addressed in the synthesis discussion that will be provided to speakers prior to the meeting to facilitate an in-depth discussion of the state of the research on this topic and future research requirements.

This symposium will be well placed at the 2017 NAFEW because of its applicability to the development ‘green’ energy from forests. We anticipate that much of the program at this year’s NAFEW will turn on restoration/mitigation efforts related to Alberta’s oil sands. We feel our symposium will complement presentations aimed at minimizing the footprint of the oil sands by discussing active research that will help diversify and move the forest sector towards the alternative energy sector.


 Session Title: Seeing the forest through the understory: promoting and maintaining diversity in contemporary hardwood forests.

 Session Summary: Recent decades have seen dramatic declines in the diversity and stability of forest understory plant communities, with profound consequences for perpetuating diverse forest canopies and an array of ecosystem services; however, researchers and managers are uncovering mechanisms and testing new approaches for restoring this critical layer.

 Principal Organizers:

Chris Webster, MTU,

Yvette Dickinson, MTU,


  • Julia Burton (Utah State University) – Does gap-based silviculture accelerate the development of old-growth characteristics?
  • Lee Frelich (University of Minnesota) – Conservation strategies for native forest plant communities affected by invasive earthworms, deer, and fragmentation
  • Mike Jenkins (Purdue University) – Understory response to 17 years of controlled deer hunting in Indiana state parks
  • Patricia Raymond (Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, Québec) – Diversity of yellow birch-conifer stands understories managed with gap-based approaches
  • Mike Saunders (Purdue University) – Increased understory richness because of deer herbivory?  It is all a matter of ecological context.
  • Mike Walters (Michigan State University) – Low tree regeneration diversity: Can the legacies of forest and deer management practices be overcome with new management approaches.
  • John Willis (Mississippi State University) – Early factors driving down tree species diversity in northern hardwood forests.

Session Description: Declines in the diversity of herbaceous and woody species in hardwood forests are increasingly common.  The mechanisms associated with these declines are complex, but have generally been associated singularly or interactively with land use change, forest management, ungulate herbivory, invasive species, nitrogen deposition, and changing microsite conditions.  The vast majority of plant diversity in forest ecosystems resides in this layer which plays a critical role in the perpetuation of overstory tree diversity and provisioning of ecosystem services.   Forest managers are increasingly tasked with maintaining and/or promoting forest diversity.  The success of these efforts, however, will depend on an improved understanding of the drivers of decline and how and if they can be effected through proactive management of this key layer.   To these ends, we have brought together a suit of researchers from across the eastern hardwood forest region to explore active protection and restoration of understory diversity in light of local drivers of decline. By focusing on the active protection and restoration of diversity in the regeneration layer, this session will directly address the NAFEW 2017 theme of “Sustaining Forests: From Restoration to Conservation”.


Session Title: Managing Riparian areas and Wetlands in an Integrated Approach to Forest Ecosystem Management

 Session Summary: This special session aims to better integrate riparian and wetland conservation within the context of ecosystem-based management, by highlighting recent research findings and current knowledge in the context of management paradigms, and associated practices and aims to identify any gaps or redundancies and to generate dialogue around potential solutions.

 Principal Organizers:

Marcel Darveau, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Laval University,

Julienne Morissette, Ducks Unlimited Canada,


  • Marcel Darveau (Ducks Unlimited Canada and Laval University) –  Wetlands and riparian zones 101: definitions, delineation, and implications for ecosystem-based management.
  • Kevin DeVito (University of Alberta) – Generalizing riparian hydrologic function in a heterogeneous landscape, Western Boreal Plain, Alberta, Canada.
  • Diego Farina (Université Laval) – Do landform and topography affect the degree of overlapping between wetlands and riparian zones? A study in eastern Canada.
  • Darren Sleep (National Council for Air and Stream Improvement) and Beverly Gingras (Ducks Unlimited Canada) – Regulatory and voluntary best-management practices for wetlands and riparian zones in boreal commercial forests: synthesis and gaps.
  • Margaret Donnelly (AL-PAC) – Planning and operational approaches to the conservation and management of wetland and riparian areas in the Boreal Plains: the Al-Pac Experience.
  • Marie-Eve Sigouin (Tembec) – Wetland and aquatic conservation and management practice in the Boreal Shield: the Tembec experience.

 Session Description:  Wetlands and riparian areas occupy approximately 30% of the >2,000,000 km² of commercial boreal forests in boreal North America. These ecosystems provide unique and key biodiversity and ecological functions, and are arguably as important in providing ecosystem services (ES) as the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems they interconnect.

The ecology and management of riparian areas and wetlands have been a major focus of forestry research since the late 1970’s following criticism and scrutiny regarding forestry effects and water quality/quantity/peak flows. The result has been numerous government regulations and best practices oriented largely toward the protection and management of riparian areas in forest-dominated landscapes. These regulations and best practices relate primarily to minimizing effects of forest roads, stream crossings and of harvesting via placement riparian buffers. More recently, regulations aimed at protecting wetlands to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services or voluntary approaches protecting high conservation value wetlands under forest certification schemes have also been developed. However, the integration of wetland conservation and riparian management across jurisdictions and the need to relate these aspects of the ecosystem to ecological management objectives and beneficial environmental outcomes have received little attention.

In this special session, through six 15-minute presentations, we will:

  1. Review current definitions, mapping/delineation techniques and ecosystem-based management contexts for these two components of the land-water interface,
  2. Sum up current state of knowledge and research gaps related to factors, processes and disturbance regimes that shape them,
  3. Present a synthesis and analysis of regulations and voluntary best-management practices (BMPs) concerning wetlands and riparian areas, and
  4. Explore how two forest industries handle and operationalise wetland and riparian knowledge in two ecoregions with contrasting hydrologic characteristics.

Following the presentations, a 30-minute panel discussion will address five key questions:

  1. Does riparian management (as currently practiced) fully address/comprise wetlands and their associated ecosystem functions? Do stand level riparian management practices link to landscape management strategies, objectives, practices and outcomes.
  2. Does wetland conservation in forest management (protection, BMPS) adequately capture riparian ecological functions and ecosystem services?
  3. What are some key gaps in understanding?
  4. Are any components of the terrestrial to aquatic areas interface overlooked by focusing on riparian management and wetland conservation?
  5. What recommendations can we make to forest managers and regulators to improve the integration of wetland and riparian management within the context of the terrestrial to aquatic interface in forest dominated-landscapes? (i.e. at multiple scales — stand level strategies linked to landscape design or strategies)

Our goal is to enhance ecosystem-based management by highlighting the importance of these terrestrial-aquatic interfaces by exploring the benefits of an integrated approach to riparian and wetland management. We believe this holistic approach will contribute to the long-term health of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. This special session is well aligned with the NAFEW 2017 theme “Supporting Forests from Restoration to Conservation” and should be of interest to a range of participants including but not limited to research scientists, forests managers, policy-makers, forest certification agencies.


Session Title: Quantifying forest complexity and integrating data into management

Session Summary: The session will address the topic of conceptualizing and effectively quantifying structural and functional complexity in forest stands and landscapes – using traditional data and emerging technologies – and utilizing this knowledge in designing and evaluating ecologically-focused forest management treatments.

Principal Organizers:

Robert Fahey, University of Connecticut,

Brady Hardiman, Purdue University,


  • Christopher Webster (Michigan Technological University) -Silviculture through the lens of forest complexity
  • William Keeton (University of Vermont) – Experimentally testing strategies for creating forest structural complexity through silviculture
  • Jan Van Aardt (Rochester Institute of Technology) – Quantifying forest complexity and tree structure with terrestrial laser scanning
  • Julia Burton (Utah State University) – The rest of the story: measuring and managing complexity in ground-layer plant communities
  • Brady Hardiman and Michael Saunders (Purdue University) –   Applying emerging technologies to applied forest ecology and forest management planning
  • Robert Fahey (University of Connecticut) – Quantifying forest structural complexity: approaches, metrics, and a conceptual framework
  • General Discussion: Integrating knowledge on forest complexity into management practice across forest types and ecosystems

 Session Description:  Management focused on ecological functioning, restoration, or resiliency in forests often includes promotion of complexity as a goal. However, the definition of forest complexity can vary greatly depending on the system in question or the ecological functions that are of interest in determining management targets. Different conceptual frameworks that are often employed focus on factors such as tree spatial arrangement, canopy structure, community complexity (species and functional trait diversity), heterogeneity in resource distributions, and spatial and temporal variability in measurable ecosystem functions. Emerging technologies such as terrestrial laser scanning, hyperspectral image-LiDAR fusions, and drone-based imaging are greatly expanding the potential tool-kit for forest ecologists and managers to utilize in quantifying forest complexity. Development and testing of complexity metrics that can characterize a variety of aspects of structural and functional complexity in forest stands and landscapes could be an important near-term goal of applied forest ecology. A conceptual framework and standardized metrics for comparing the effects of both traditional and newly developed, resilience- or ecologically-focused silvicultural treatments on complexity will be useful in predicting treatment impacts and designing new treatments to promote these factors.

However, although understanding how to measure and conceptually define forest complexity could be a very important goal, research focused on quantifying the complexity of composition and arrangement of structural and functional elements in forests has not always been well connected to forest management practice. Effort is needed to determine how best to translate new understanding of forest complexity into silvicultural prescriptions, including experimental tests of silvicultural strategies to promote various aspects of complexity. It will be necessary for ecologists, silviculturalists, and foresters to engage in conversation about how to most effectively integrate new metrics and new understanding of forest complexity, from a variety of data sources, into management actions.

The session engages researchers from a variety of backgrounds to address the topic of how to conceptualize and effectively quantify complexity in forest stands and how to utilize this knowledge in designing and evaluating forest management treatments. We will highlight emerging methods of quantifying forest complexity and how these methods might be best utilized in an applied forest ecology setting. Individual speakers will address a broad spectrum of attributes of forest stands at a variety of spatial scales including: spatial indices of stand and landscape structural complexity, leaf to canopy-level physiology and traits, understory communities and resource environments, and structural assessments using terrestrial laser scanning and other remote sensing techniques. The session will conclude with a general discussion of how the forest management community can incorporate emerging tools and data and synthetic metrics of complexity into assessments of silvicultural practices.



Session Title: Linear disturbances in boreal forests and peatlands

 Session Summary: Linear disturbances are a widespread pernicious feature in boreal forests of North America subject to hydrocarbon development. This special session will deal with ecological issues surrounding the creation and restoration of linear disturbances in the boreal, as well as a forum for discussion of these issues among researchers and practitioners.

Principal Organizers:

Guillermo Castilla, Canadian Forest Service,

Maria Strack, University of Waterloo,

Greg McDermid, University of Calgary, mcdermid@ucalgary


  • Anna Dabros (Canadian Forest Service) – Edge effects of low impact seismic lines on upland forest plant communities in northern Alberta
  • Scott Nielsen (University of Alberta) – Patterns in seismic line vegetation recovery and landscape restoration planning in Alberta’s oil sands.
  • Erin Bayne (University of Alberta) -Wildlife response to energy sector recovery: The importance of sampling methodology
  • Greg McDermid (University of Calgary) – The role of UAVs in linear disturbance restoration and monitoring, contributions from the BERA project
  • Maria Strack (University of Waterloo) – Impact of access roads on peatland greenhouse gas exchange.

Session Description: Despite being narrow, linear disturbances such as access roads and seismic lines (linear clearings in the forest resulting from hydrocarbon exploration) are the dominant industrial footprint in many of the boreal forests of western North America, causing landscape fragmentation and hindering recovery efforts for threatened wildlife such as the woodland caribou. To mitigate the host of negative effects these disturbances cause on the boreal forest and its inhabitants, research is being undertaken to better understand underlying mechanism, best practices for the reclamation of these lines are being tested, and new techniques for monitoring vegetation recovery along them are in development. The goal of this special session is to provide relevant information regarding ecological issues surrounding the creation, restoration and monitoring of linear disturbances in the boreal, as well as a forum for discussion of these issues among researchers and practitioners.


Session Title: The Changing Face of the Northern Forest: The Ongoing Legacy of Beech Bark Disease

Session Summary:  Forest managers and research scientists from across the US and Canada will discuss current status and new findings related to beech bark disease, which results when insects and fungi interact with American beech, causing eventual tree mortality and leading to inexorable changes in forest structure, diversity, and function.

 Principal Organizers:

Mariann Johnston, SUNY-ESF,

Jonathan Cale, University of Alberta,

Stacy McNulty, SUNY-ESF,


  • Jon Cale (University of Alberta) – Pathosystems, spread, and temporal stages of beech bark disease in North American forests
  • Randall Morin (USDA Forest Service, Newtown PA) – Insect spread dynamics: Beech Scale Advance and Regional Forest Dynamics in the Northern Forest
  • Matt Kasson (West Virginia University) – Fungal dynamics: A tale of two Neonectria: Dynamics of N. ditissima and N. faginata in the aftermath forests on the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia, USA
  • Mariann Johnston ( SUNY-ESF) – Role of nutrition:  Nutritional physiology influences host tree susceptibility to BBD
  • Richard Wilson (MNRF Ontario) – Management challenges:  Beech bark disease in Canada: current impacts, outlook, and management efforts
  • Jonathan Cale (University of Alberta) and Mariann Johnston ( SUNY-ESF) – Future directions: Planning for the future with beech bark disease: A synthesis of research gaps and management questions
  • Stacy McNulty (SUNY-ESF) – General Discussion Period

Session Description: Northern forests containing American beech have been undergoing a significant shift in structure and biodiversity due to the relentless expansion of beech bark disease (BBD). Resulting from the introduction of the invasive beech scale insect to Nova Scotia from Europe around 1890 and its interaction with annual phytopathogenic fungi in the genus Neonectria, the disease has progressed steadily across the region for more than a century.  Beech bark disease results in dieback and death of overstory American beech, development of shrub-like thickets of beech root sprouts, and regeneration failure of other tree species such as sugar maple, negatively influencing tree diversity and timber value. Impacts on biodiversity extend to the plant and animal communities, ranging from decreased biodiversity in the herbaceous community to loss of nesting cavities and beech nuts for wildlife. The initial attack stages of this complex disease have been reasonably well described as commencing with the attack of beech scale followed by Neonectria fungal infection, leading to slow crown dieback and eventual tree mortality. However, despite the economic and ecologic repercussions of this disease, its behavior in chronically-affected aftermath forests is poorly understood, with the roles of additional native fungi and at least one native scale insect becoming implicated in disease dynamics. Because American beech is a major component of the northern forest, the ramifications of BBD-induced changes on forest structure and function are immense. Our ability to manage this disease and conserve the forest resource requires a better understanding of the causal organisms and their relationships to each other and the environment. A variety of recent findings regarding the systematics of the causal organisms and their interactions with biotic and abiotic environmental factors may provide new tools and techniques for managing the disease.

In this session, we will bring together scientists from the U.S. and Canada researching various facets of this complex pathosystem, as well as the forest managers responding to it. By bringing together scientists and land managers to share experiences and new findings, this session will encourage a renewed, invigorated and integrated focus on this issue. We anticipate the stimulation of new collaborations and opportunities as we work across borders to understand and manage this historical and ongoing agent of change across the northern forest.


Session Title: Adapting forest management to climate change: the state of the science and applications

Session Summary: This session will give examples of recent advances in climate change adaptation planning in the U.S. and Canada through development of science-management partnerships, emphasizing consistencies in theories, frameworks, and processes for adaptation, and highlighting examples of development and implementation of adaptation options.

 Principal Organizers:

Jessica Halofsky, University of Washington,

David L. Peterson, U.S. Forest Service,


  • Jason Edwards (Natural Resources Canada) – Adapting sustainable forest management to climate change: Examples from Canada
  • David L. Peterson (U.S. Forest Service) – TBA
  • Mark Johnston (Saskatchewan Research Council) – TBA
  • Christopher Swanston (U.S. Forest Service) – Real-world forest adaptation: Moving from information to implementation
  • Linh Hoang and Barry Bollenbacher (U.S. Forest Service) –  Implementing climate change adaptation tactics in the Northern Rocky Mountains, USA

 Session Description: Over the last ten years, considerable progress has been made in the development of climate change adaptation approaches for forest management in the United States and Canada. Many of these adaptation approaches are broadly applicable to forest habitat restoration and conservation efforts. Given that development of climate change adaptation options are in the early stages, sharing of approaches across agency, organization, regional and national boundaries is critical to advance the science and application. This session will give examples of recent advances in adaptation planning in the U.S. and Canada through development of science-management partnerships. We will emphasize consistencies in theories, frameworks, and processes for adaptation, and highlight examples of development and implementation of adaptation options. We will conclude the session with an expert panel to discuss commonalities and differences among approaches, keys to success, and next steps to promote development and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies and tactics.


Session Title: Effects of reclamation practices on ecosystem succession after oil-sands mining in boreal Alberta

Session Summary: This session will bring together a range of experts to discuss how environment and reclamation treatments influence succession and how reclamation practices might be modified to more effectively facilitate succession towards plant communities that resemble natural communities in the region.

Principal Organizers:

Phil Comeau, University of Alberta,

Amalesh Dhar, University of Alberta,

Robert Vassov, Shell Canada Energy,


  • Derek Mackenzie (University of Alberta) – Can reclamation of above and belowground processes be measured with a functional similarity index?
  • Dean MacKenzie (Vertex Resource Group) and Anne Naeth (University of Alberta) – Surface Soil Handling and Storage Impacts On Plant Propagules and Establishment of Native Plant Communities
  •  Simon Landhäusser, Ellen Macdonald and Vic Lieffers (University of Alberta) – Drivers of spatial and temporal patterns in vegetation during spontaneous early colonization of boreal reclamation sites
  • Brad Pinno and Sanatan Das Gupta (Natural Resources Canada) – Coarse woody debris applications in oil sands reclamation impact plant community and soil properties
  • Justine Karst (University of Alberta) – Establishment of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities following reclamation
  • Amalesh Dhar (University of Alberta) – Ecosystem assembly ideas and their application in oilsands reclamation

Session Description: An understanding of effects of reclamation treatments on vegetation response would assist in developing realistic indicators and targets for reclamation of upland oil-sands sites to forest ecosystems. This should include the effects of topography, subsoil and substrate, cover/donor soil, soil moisture regime, coarse woody material, surface characteristics, fertilization, agronomic cover crops, planting and seeding of native species, weeds, and other factors on plant community development including successional stages, rates of succession, development of communities and ecosystems that meet end targets (similar or close to composition, structure and productivity to natural boreal forest ecosystems).  This session will bring together a number of specialists to discuss how these factors and how various reclamation practices influence succession and achievement of reclamation targets.  The discussion will include consideration of current knowledge and information needs.


Session Title: Assisted Migration in Practice: Ecological Risks and Benefits

Session Summary: This session will focus on assisted migration of tree species as a silvicultural tool, highlighting several case studies of implementation in operational settings, bookended with discussions of ecological rationale, benefits, and risks, and scientific support for proceeding with AM in forest management.

 Principal Organizers:

Brian Palik, USDA Forest Service,

Anthony D’Amato, University of Vermont,


  • John Pedlar (Natural Resources Canada) – An Overview of Assisted Migration in Forestry
  • Anthony D’Amato (University of Vermont) – Black ash, emerald ash borer, and climate change: assisting the replacement of a foundational species
  • Brian Palik (USDA Forest Service) – Transitioning red pine forests to a warmer, drier future: assisting the replacement of an iconic forest type
  • Andreas Hamann (Univ. of Alberta) – Assisted migration in reforestation: risk of action versus risk of status quo management
  • Christian Messier (Université du Québec à Montréal): Realities and possibilities: what science tells us about the potential of assisted migration.

Session Description:  The use of assisted migration (including assisted range expansion) as forest management tools to facilitate climate change adaptation has been discussed with increasing frequency over the last 10 years.  There are three primary ways that researchers have addressed assisted migration in a forestry context.  First, there have been a number of review papers that discuss the topic, specifically, what it is in its various forms, what the advantages and pit-falls may be, and what rules should be followed for making decisions about appropriate species to move (e.g., Pedlar et al. BioScience 2012; Williams and Dumroese J of Forestry 2013).  Second, several projects have evaluated species choice, migration distances, and potential for regeneration success using various modeling frameworks (e.g., Gray et al. Ecol. Appl. 2011).  Third, there are an increasing number of evaluations of assisted migration using existing long-term provenance studies or that involve more recent transplant experiments using seedlings or seeds (e.g., McLane and Aitkin Ecol. Appl. 2012; AMAT).  These latter efforts are also largely provenance trials conducted in garden plot settings.  All of these are valuable for increasing our understanding of AM, but they lack the realism of actual AM trials that are conducted as part of silvicultural activities in managed forests.  In fact, there have been surprisingly few examples of AM implementation in operational settings, even in experimental settings, although there have been calls to begin this approach (e.g., Pedlar et al. BioScience 2012).  Some may argue that that lack of field evaluation is because it is still premature to be implementing AM at operational scales in managed forests due to uncertainties about appropriate species or seed-source choices, concerns over species invasion risk, and high financial risk associated with failure.  An alternative perspective is that the time to “experiment” with AM in an operational setting is now, given the looming threat of climate change-induced habitat shifts and barriers to natural migration of species.  This perspective suggests that even with uncertainty, the benefits may outweigh the risks.  This session will explore the use of AM in forestry, with a focus on examples of implementation in operational settings.  The session will open with an overview of AM in forest management, including the history of its use, its various forms, ecological implications, and benefits and risks.  The next three presentations will highlight AM case studies/ in operational settings.  While these talks will focus on AM trials that are conducted as research experiments, each is being done in conjunction with forest management stakeholders who are interested in jump starting AM in their forests by evaluating potential future-climate adapted species in actual management settings.  Each talk will present the rationale for the AM effort, the risks involved, and the ecological need and benefits of the AM effort.  Finally, the last talk of the session will address what recent research tells us about the potential for AM in managed forest at higher latitudes.  We believe that this session will be of great interests to NAFEW attendees and that a wrap-up discussion focusing on the ecological risks and benefits of AM in forestry will have the potential to engage much of the audience.


Session Title: Beyond twitter and blogs: Connecting science to your core audience

 Session Summary: Science communication is increasingly of interest to academics, graduate students and resource managers and this session will shed light on new approaches for communicating and applying science, including tangible takeaways participants can incorporate into their own work.

 Principal Organizer:

Matthew Pyper, Fuse Consulting Ltd.,


  • Matthew Pyper (Fuse Consulting Ltd.) – Using drones and dialogue to inform new approaches to resource management
  • Kurt Illerbrun (Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute) – Cultivating receptivity: Creating engagement through citizen science and outreach at the ABMI
  • Michel Proulx (University of Alberta) – Re-writing the way Universities share science with the public by shifting away from traditional approaches
  • Brian Palik (USDA Forest Service) and Anthony D’Amato (University of Vermont) – Operational-scale experiments: connecting scientists with managers using real world forestry

Session Description:

Blogging, twitter accounts and media profiles.  These are all tools and techniques which have been promoted for reaching the public with your science.  But to most scientists, these tools, and the time required to manage them, can seem overwhelming.  This raises a number of important questions.  Will these investments of time and energy pay off?  Are there alternate approaches to communicate science? And most importantly, how can we ensure that science is being applied to improve sustainability?

This session aims to highlight current initiatives in the realm of forest ecology that are finding creative ways to engage their target audiences in a genuine dialogue.  The session will cover a broad array of approaches ranging from: a dramatic shift in the way university media approaches communications; to engaging citizens in research; to using drones and multimedia to facilitate discussions about implementing science; to building capacity for uptake at the very start of a research program.  In addition to presentations, we will host an interactive panel session where presenters will highlight how you can use similar techniques in your own work.  The goal is to show managers and scientists that science communication isn’t just about blogs and social media.  Rather, it is about equipping people with the knowledge they need to make decisions that matter.