Province provides $34,000 annually to universities for forestry research.

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Ontario has entered into collaborative research agreements with McMaster University and the University of Toronto to study the effects of climate change on forest growth.

The province has signed a collaborative research agreement with the University of Toronto, valued at $56,000 over three years, to assess the effect of the eastern spruce budworm in Ontario’s boreal forests. Their interest is to mitigate timber losses in support of the forest sector and help promote healthy, resilient and sustainable forests while supporting the forest industry.

A collaborative project valued at $45,000 over 3 years, McMaster University will study the effects of climate change on forest growth. “These collaborative research agreements with McMaster University and the University of Toronto are tremendous steps forward in research to sustain forests and the forest industry in Ontario,’ said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

This research will further understanding of environmental pressures on Ontario’s forests. These investments come from the Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy to support applied research and monitoring to inform evidence-based decision-making and policy.

McMaster University, will make use of a subset of artificial intelligence called machine-based learning to create a model to better understand the effects of climate change on Ontario’s forest growth and yield. Machine-based learning uses computer technology to analyze large volumes of diverse data to reveal patterns, trends, and relationships that are difficult to identify using traditional analysis methods.

The research agreement will help Ontario further refine our practices of sustainable forest management, and it will supply the forest industry with updated growth and yield information needed to carry out forest management planning and wood supply analysis. “There is a growing interest in considering climate change effects in forest management activities. Through this partnership, we are leveraging 70+ years of Ontario growth and yield program data on forest site conditions, soil properties and stand structure across the province,”said Alemu Gonsamo, Assistant Professor at McMaster University’s School of Earth, Environment & Society.

The University of Toronto research will involve applying remote sensing satellite technology to analyze and model tree mortality caused by eastern spruce budworm in Ontario’s forests to support forest management planning.

The eastern spruce budworm is one of the most widespread and destructive pests in Ontario, capable of affecting millions of hectares of boreal forest. “This work will improve our ability to accurately map where and when budworm outbreaks are occurring, which will be key to addressing other research questions related to forest health, wildfire risk, and forest management,” said Patrick James, Associate Professor at the Institute of
Forestry and Conservation at the University of Toronto

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