Trent University logo  
Daily News

Calendar of Events

Search the Site

Daily News

News Releases

Sporting News

Special Bulletins

Daily News Archives

Weekly Feature Archives

The View from Trent

Trent Magazine

Focus Trent

Build 2000


Ecology and Economy in Harmony in Our Forests?

The interests of ecology and economy may converge in the results of Dr. Jim Buttle's Forest Fish research project, in which he examines just where and how many trees can be cut down before there's an effect on Ontario's lakes and streams.

Prof. Buttle is leading a team of researchers from Trent's Watershed Science Centre, including Dr. David Evans and Dr. Mark Ridgway as well as Dr. Rob Mackereth from Centre for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research at Lakehead University, and a number of graduate students from both schools. Their pursuit, funded by Ontario's Living Legacy Trust Fund, is to be able to predict ecologically sensitive areas, based on fish habitat and through the use of geographical information systems (GIS). Field studies are underway across Ontario - in Algonquin Park, Haliburton and in the north part of the province, near Thunder Bay and in the northeast near Timmins.

This project, titled The Forest Fish: Linking Topographic Models of Forested Sub-watersheds to the Conservation of Brook Trout, is one of three interrelated studies that Prof. Buttle has undertaken as part of his hydrology research. Each of the studies will afford information to assist in sustainable forest management.

With the Forest Fish research results, Prof. Buttle and the team will be able to work with forestry companies to identify ecologically sensitive areas, and prevent harvesting that would have damaging effects. The overriding objective of the project, underway since 2001, is to come up with a scientific way to protect habitat sites. The current one-size-fits-all approach sees a specified amount of area around a body of water termed off limits to foresting companies.

"Our ultimate goal is sustainable foresting practices," says Prof. Buttle adding the team hopes to sensitize foresting companies to the importance of protecting certain sites. At the same time, he believes research results will indicate that these companies can safely have access to additional timber while protecting critical habitats. Essentially, he says it's a matter of putting protection efforts in place where they will have the most effect.

"At the end of the day, there may be a trade-off," says Prof. Buttle, adding it may be that some areas are over protected. "We're confident we can assist foresting companies in being ecologically sensitive and not have a major economic impact on their business."

Prof. Buttle and the project partners are working hand in hand with foresting companies and will present their findings to industry representatives at a workshop in North Bay in the spring.

Meanwhile, he is also principal investigator on a project funded by the Sustainable Forest Management Network - one of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence, based at University of Alberta. This program is a collaboration between academia and industry to examine the impacts of forest disturbance (both fire and harvesting) on streamflow at differing spatial scales in landscapes across Ontario.

Prof. Buttle's third project, funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant, is to determine how to quantify the way water moves through forest landscapes. He explains this information is essential so that scientists can evaluate whether forest buffer strips actually protect lakes and streams from the impacts of harvesting.

Posted December 17, 2003


Return to Trent University Home
Go to Trent University Site Index
A to Z
Maintained by the Communications Office
Last Updated June 24, 2003