Unit 3 - Types of Forest Research

Lesson 1: Research Tools

In the last unit, we discussed who conducts forestry research in Canada and Alberta. We also detailed some of the many partnerships that exist between the various agencies. In this unit, we will examine  different areas of forest research that is being conducted in Canada and Alberta.


The use of databanks is an effective means of conducting research and an important means of storing and sharing knowledge. Data is most useful when it can be accessed by many people at the same time. In fact, data that is hoarded is not much use to anyone. Because databanks store knowledge in an electronic format, they can be continuously updated to reflect new findings.

Databanks are very important tools to the scientific and the non-scientific community:

  • By accessing databases, researchers can study what has already been accomplished in a particular area, and they can identify areas where additional research may still be required. Researchers can also ensure that they are not simply duplicating a study that has already been done.

  • Databanks also provide decision makers with credible information to guide decisions related to the forest resource.

The National Forestry Database is an example of a database that provides information regarding the state of Canada's forests. Created in 1990, it includes information related to forest inventory, forest fires, forest insects and diseases, and pest control. It describes forest management and its impact on the forest resource, and is use to develop a public information program to provide reliable, timely information to the provincial and federal government.

The "Oil Sands Leadership Initiative" uses data to project how a forest is going to change grow and develop in the future.

Click on the PLAY icon to below to watch their video "Landscape Ecological Assessment and Planning."           



Information Systems

 Information systems have many applications in the area of forest research. For example, Geographical Information Systems assemble information about landscapes, soil, and vegetation into maps and databases, which can then be used by forest researchers. For another example, if a certain forest pest is to be studied, researchers must have accurate information regarding its spread. Similarly, if forest managers are to preserve habitat for a certain animal, they must have accurate information related to where this animal lives.

Information systems are also used to monitor forest conditions. The Canadian Wildland Fire Information System is an example. Daily weather data is collected from across Canada and used to produce fire weather maps that indicate the level of fire danger in different parts of the country.