Holocene variations of wildfire occurrence as a guide for sustainable management of the northeastern Canadian boreal forest


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El-Guellab, Ahmed, Asselin, Hugo, Gauthier, Sylvie, Bergeron, Yves et Ali, Adam A (2015). Holocene variations of wildfire occurrence as a guide for sustainable management of the northeastern Canadian boreal forest. Forest Ecosystems , 2 (1). doi:10.1186/s40663-015-0039-2 Repéré dans Depositum à https://depositum.uqat.ca/id/eprint/948

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Cumulative impacts of wildfires and forest harvesting can cause shifts from closed-crown forest to open woodland in boreal ecosystems. To lower the probability of occurrence of such catastrophic regime shifts, forest logging must decrease when fire frequency increases, so that the combined disturbance rate does not exceed the Holocene maximum. Knowing how climate warming will affect fire regimes is thus crucial to sustainably manage the forest. This study aimed to provide a guide to determine sustainable forest harvesting levels, by reconstructing the Holocene fire history at the northern limit of commercial forestry in Quebec using charcoal particles preserved in lake sediments.

Sediment cores were sampled from four lakes located close to the northern limit of commercial forestry in Quebec. The cores were sliced into consecutive 0.5 cm thick subsamples from which 1 cm3 was extracted to count and measure charcoal particles larger than 150 microns. Age-depth models were obtained for each core based on accelerator mass spectroscopy (AMS) radiocarbon dates. Holocene fire histories were reconstructed by combining charcoal counts and age-depth models to obtain charcoal accumulation rates and, after statistical treatment, long-term trends in fire occurrence (expressed as number of fires per 1000 years).

Fire occurrence varied between the four studied sites, but fires generally occurred more often during warm and dry periods of the Holocene, especially during the Holocene Thermal Maximum (7000–3500 cal. BP), when fire occurrence was twice as high as at present.

The current fire regime in the study area is still within the natural range of variability observed over the Holocene. However, climatic conditions comparable to the Holocene Thermal Maximum could be reached within the next few decades, thus substantially reducing the amount of wood available to the forest industry.

Type de document: Article
Informations complémentaires: Licence d'utilisation : CC-BY 4.0
Mots-clés libres: Fire occurrence; Holocene; Boreal forest; Northern limit; Forest management
Divisions: Forêts
Date de dépôt: 26 mars 2020 19:05
Dernière modification: 26 mars 2020 19:05
URI: https://depositum.uqat.ca/id/eprint/948

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