Role of wind in forest openings in the southern portion of the spruce-lichen woodland, Québec, Canada

Université Laval, Saint-Laurent ile d'orléans, Québec Canada

This study presents the impacts of wind activity following forest fires over several thousand square kilometres in the southern portion of the spruce lichens woodlands in the province of Québec. This phenomenon had not been studied, and compared to other regions of the Canadian boreal zone wind activity in this area it is unique in its intensity and progression. Effects of wind, sand dunes and blowouts, occur in many areas between the 51st and 53rd degree of northern latitude, corresponding to the transition between the spruce-moss forest and spruce-lichen woodlands. The study uncovered huge areas composed of waterdeficient sandy soils. There are indications that increased wind activity triggered by forest fires led to the development of aeolian erosion and sand dunes in this region. This phenomenon leads to the loss and degradation of forest soil and most likely contributes to opening up forest cover over a long period of time, notably by a return to a primary stage of soil development. According to our observations, wind effects increase following forest fires in this region. In addition, a hypothesis was derived that the effect of the wind in winter can damage the forest regeneration and maintains low density forests. For the Circum Boreal Vegetation Mapping project we suggest to integrate into the legend a specific codification which would allow indicating this type of natural disturbance when it affects vast territories. It should be the same for regions with higher rates of fire recurrence and those periodically affected by insect epidemics.

© 2012 Organizing Committee