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Research Into Action: Foundry’s New ECA Module!

Understanding forest disturbance in BC’s Watersheds

Background

Over time, the effects of forest disturbance compound, ultimately creating implications for ecological function, hydrological response, and public safety in the watersheds where disturbance has occurred. Each year, new disturbance accumulates, and disturbance from previous years recovers in part. We launched our ECA project in 2020 to evaluate methods that we thought could help quantify the history of forest disturbance. This mission allowed us to tackle the knowledge gap that exists due to a lack of accessible, quantitative data describing the cumulative amount of forest disturbance in BC’s watersheds — ranging from disturbance data around forest harvest, fire, pest infestation such as Mountain Pine Beetle, or infrastructure development. Read more about forest disturbances, ECA, and the beginnings of our pilot project in our 2021 post, Forests of the Future!

Pilot Project Update

Over the past two years, we compiled our project findings from an analysis of nearly 40 years of forest disturbance and put ECA into action, allowing users to interact with the results that are delivered on a web-based map module in the Northwest Water Tool. Our tool enables users to determine the types of disturbances each specified watershed has experienced over time, project future recovery, and explore disturbed areas’ physical characteristics, such as their elevation, slope, and aspect.

Implications And Applications

Understanding and utilizing this vital information allows users to quickly and easily evaluate disturbance in any watershed — knowledge that would otherwise require expert scientists and technicians to assemble through one-off assessments that take weeks or months to complete for each watershed assessed. By reducing barriers to accessing and understanding watershed level disturbance information, ECA empowers resource management professionals to make smarter decisions about when and where to conduct restoration activities and are better informed about the current risk exposure associated with the historical disturbance.

Interested? You can check out our ECA module here: https://nwwt-eca.bcwatertool.ca/equivalent-clearcut-area

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Empowering decisions to shape the future of watersheds and aquifers.

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