Eastern white pine forests of La Mauricie National Park of Canada have been severely affected by logging and forest fire suppression since the 1850s, and by the exotic white pine blister rust since the beginning of the twentieth century. These alterations have changed the ecological trajectory of eastern white pine ecosystems, which now appear hardly sustainable. Eastern white pine saplings are nearly absent, and balsam fir saplings are strong competitors for space and light. Since 1991, Parks Canada uses prescribed burning for restoring eastern white pine ecosystems. We studied seven pine stands in which prescribed burning was applied and compared them with nine unburned stands. Over 63% of balsam fir saplings were killed by prescribed burning, thus eliminating a significant part of the competition to eastern white pine seedlings. These were four times more abundant in burned than in unburned sites (21,333 vs. 5178 seedlings/ha). In the short term, the eastern white pine regeneration objectives established by Parks Canada have been achieved. Pine seedlings growth is slow, and they should be monitored regularly to ensure long-term success of this restoration programme. If necessary, it might be helpful to increase light penetration by girdling mature balsam firs or spruces.
Part of the book: Protected Areas, National Parks and Sustainable Future