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Ecogeographic variation in black spruce wood properties across Quebec’s boreal forest

Giroud, Guillaume, Bégin, Jean, Defo, Maurice, Ung, Chhun-Huor
Forest ecology and management 2016 v.378 pp. 131-143
Abies balsamea, Picea mariana, boreal forests, byproducts, fiber quality, inventories, lumber, mechanical properties, mixed stands, models, modulus of elasticity, paper pulp, trees, variance, wood, wood density, Quebec
Ecogeographic variation in black spruce clear wood properties was investigated for the two main vegetation types of the managed boreal forest of the province of Quebec, Canada. In total, 409 co-dominant and dominant trees from 82 mature stands were sampled. Basic wood density, modulus of elasticity and microfibril angle were measured using SilviScan. Mature fiber length was determined using a high-resolution Fiber Quality Analyzer. Wood growing in pure black spruce stands had longer mature fibers, a significantly denser wood with better mechanical characteristics than the wood growing in mixed stands with balsam fir. All wood properties were clearly influenced by radial growth and species composition.Given the limited number of sample plots for mapping purposes, a two-stage modeling approach was assessed to predict stand-level estimates of black spruce clear wood properties. This scaling-up method, based on field measurements and ring data from 3350 inventory plots, has improved the performance of all models. Stand-level models explained 47%, 57%, 63% and 63% of variance in wood density, modulus of elasticity, microfibril angle and mature fiber length respectively with estimated root mean square errors of 8.9kg/m3, 0.52GPa, 0.60° and 0.06mm.An east-west gradient in black spruce clear wood properties was revealed as possibly the by-product of the change in relative proportions of both studied vegetation types across the study area. The results indicate that the black spruce wood from western regions of the managed boreal forest has a better potential for producing pulp and paper, lumber or engineered products due to its longer mature fibers and higher mechanical properties.