A versatile but underused technology in Canada is proving to be accurate and reliable for climate-change research and estimates of carbon dioxide consumption in forests.
Traditional studies typically use growth and yield models to measure a forest’s ability to capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide (carbon sequestration). However, in a recent study, FPInnovations fibre-production scientist Tessie Tong, used SilviScan technology in her research on the impact forest disturbances and climate change have on forest carbon sequestration.
SilviScan is a multifaceted technology developed in Australia. It is comprised of an advanced suite of software and instruments including a cell scanner, x-ray densitometer, and x-ray diffractometer, which are used together to measure wood structure and quality that are most relevant to the industry. This versatile technology is able to measure the tiniest fibre dimensions within a tree and the data may then be used to map the forests of an entire province.
The integrated set of instruments is designed to evaluate samples taken non-destructively from standing trees. A cylindrical sample taken from the bark through to the tree’s center (pith) weighs just a few grams and is enough to detect the wood and fibre properties of a tree. FPInnovations is one of only three organizations in the world that owns one.
Part of Tong’s research project involved analyzing thousands of tree rings in the Mauricie and Gaspé regions of Quebec. The data determined that slowed tree growth in the stands correlated with periods of insect infestation. Although the disturbances occurred at different times in the two regions, the decreased sequestration rate was the same.
“The study demonstrated that SilviScan is a good tool for forest-related climate-change research,” says Tong. “It can be used to directly estimate how much carbon dioxide is sequestered in a specific year, or how much more carbon dioxide can be sequestered if growing conditions are ideal. We were also able to estimate the rate carbon sequestration decreases based on a specific disturbance.”
Further research should involve larger sample sets with complete weather and disturbance history. Exploring the use of algorithms to reveal climate influences in order to construct models for projecting future carbon sequestration potential is also planned.
For additional information, please contact Tessie Tong.