In mid-June the Quetico Park Biology team (Park Biologist Brian Jackson and the Assistant Biologists Jared Walter Stachiw and Cat Langillle) along with QPP Information Specialist Jill Legault surveyed the red pine forest stands along Agnes and Kawnipi Lakes for fire-scarred tree samples. When a fire injures a tree, it creates a scar at the base of the tree referred to as a fire scar. Fire scars record the exact year and season that a fire occurred, which allows us to figure out how many times fire happened in an area. Fire is a natural and necessary process in Quetico’s forests and provides opportunity for regeneration of pine species and rejuvenation of available nutrients in the soil (to name just a couple of the numerous positive impacts of fire in Quetico’s forests).
Currently, Quetico Provincial Park is interested in better understanding the role of fire in Quetico’s ecosystems, and how it can be used as a management tool to promote ecological integrity. The fire-scared cross-sections taken from several dead red pine snags and stumps along Agnes, East, Louisa, and Kawnipi Lakes will add to the already considerable fire history dataset the Park has been collecting for the last three years. All together, the data from these fire scars will provide the Park Biologist with the information they require to make informed management decisions for Quetico Park.
Next time you hear of a fire occurring in Quetico Park don’t worry about how it will change the aesthetics of the shoreline, but rather think of all the important long-term benefits this burn will contribute to the forest.
– Jared Walter Stachiw