Western red cedar able to adapt to changing climate

Red cedar is a $1.3 billion industry responsible for 1,900 jobs in B.C.

Research scientist Dimitri Fillipescu stands with Western red cedar seedlings that are part of a study at the Pacific Forestry Centre. Fillipescu works in forest ecophysiology with a focus on red cedar’s sustainable future.

Research scientist Dimitri Fillipescu stands with Western red cedar seedlings that are part of a study at the Pacific Forestry Centre. Fillipescu works in forest ecophysiology with a focus on red cedar’s sustainable future.

In a greenhouse behind the Pacific Forestry Centre, research scientist Cosmin Fillipescu points to a tiny wrapping foil around the base of an evergreen seedling.

Within the foil is a fungus. Researchers are trying to recreate the butt rot found in millions of B.C.’s most treasured tree, the western red cedar.

There are few woods, if any, that are as durable and in demand as the western red cedar. First Nations call it the ‘tree of life,’ for the tree’s  variability.

To date, red cedar is not under threat. But with climate change, and an increasing global demand, it will be, and in more ways than one. That’s why Fillipescu spends his days at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Saanich dedicated to understanding what’s in store for B.C.’s red cedar stock.

“Red cedar is responsible for 1,900 jobs in B.C.,” Fillipescu said. “It’s a $1.3 billion annual industry.”

The Royal Oak resident focuses on forest ecophysiology with the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre of Natural Resources Canada, and leads the Cedar Research Working Group.

It’s a multi-year research project with other research scientists, graduate students, First Nations, provincial and federal representatives, to look at the western red cedar from a range of viewpoints such as economics, ecology, disease, quality and value of forest products and of course, climate change.

“The goal is to learn how to manage western red cedar as a long-term, sustainable, high-quality resource for the future,” Fillipescu said.

Butt rot, for example, has been an issue with red cedar since the beginning of the logging industry. But in the past, the industry could continue logging red cedar until the amount of rotten trees were compensated for.

But now logging is done at a sustainable rate, and there is a demand to increase the amount of usable yield.

There is about 750 million cubic metres of western red cedar in B.C. About one-third of that is on forested managed areas, 500 million of it is protected, and the industry logs about four million cubic metres per year on average. In turn, nine million seedlings are planted per year.

“We have a research project going to see if the amount of rotten trees can be minimized (the trees look healthy until they’ve been felled) through selective breeding,” Fillipescu said.

Selective breeding has been done. In one case, researchers have tried to find a strain of western red cedar that is less appealing to deer. Ungulates become part of the problem when replanting red cedar, as they enjoy the tree in its seedling stage.

“We have to find a way to breed for both deer browsing,” Fillipescu said, “and to see if we can find a species that is resistant to the rot.”

Red cedar leaf blight is another problem that could grow as the climate becomes warmer and drier along B.C.’s coast, which is where 80 per cent of the province’s western red cedar is found. Already, the amount of yellow cedar is in decline due to dwindling snowpack, which exposes the roots, and other causes.

“Another thing we want to know, is if we can get lower rotations of crops,” Fillipescu asks. “Right now it’s 60 to 80 years.”

The working group is also focusing on whether second growth trees are providing the same quality of wood and disease resistance as their forebears, what environmental conditions red cedar will need to adapt to, and how to manage regeneration of red cedar and its demand in overseas markets for Canadian forest products.

 

Visit cedargroup.blogspot.ca/ for more information.

 

 

Just Posted

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

Embracing the urban forestry rule known as 3-30-300 could improve the community’s mental health, says Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich council embraces 3-30-300 rule to improve access to green space

Coun. Zac de Vries says rule promotes health and well-being through urban forestry

BC Housing has brought in sanitation trailers to the former Mount Tolmie Hospital site so its current residents can access clean water, showers, sinks and toilets after a collapsed sewer pipe impacted water service to the building. (Google Streetview)
Mount Tolmie Hospital homelessness shelter using sanitation trailers after pipe collapse

Travelodge shelter residents faced intermittent hot water supply in late May, early June

Numerous Esquimalt residents can now build a detached accessory suite of up to 65 square metres in their backyard. (Township of Esquimalt)
Backyard suites now legal for some Esquimalt properties

One unit of up to 65 square metres now permitted for eligible residents

COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School, both on June 14. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Two Saanich schools report COVID-19 exposures

Exposures reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Syringes prepared with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Vaccine first doses now available for walk-ins on Vancouver Island

People aged 18+ can walk in for their first COVID-19 vaccine

Photos displayed at a vigil for former Nanaimo outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found June 3 and whose death RCMP are investigating as a homicide. (News Bulletin photo)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Most Read