Since 2005, New Brunswick Crown silviculture data handling has been done in real-time and is almost paperless. The system, nicknamed ESILV for Electronic Silviculture, uses a web-based interface that emulates the old paper system and is accessible by licensees and DNR and its regional offices.
Since 2005, New Brunswick Crown silviculture data handling has been done in real-time and is almost paperless. The system, nicknamed ESILV for Electronic Silviculture, uses a web-based interface that emulates the old paper system and is accessible by licensees and DNR and its regional offices. ESILV capitalizes on the digital tools used in the field, such as GPS and data collectors, and their compatibility with PCs and GIS. ESILV spans the licensee's data handling; planning and forest management systems from the annual silviculture proposals to DNR; execution and reporting - within 30 days; and DNR's monitoring and approval processes, all the way to final payment. Some data components, such as rate determination, go on to contribute to the following year's silviculture program.
The system has been integrated and is used by the licensees. It is fully functional within DNR and the four regional offices that monitor Crown silviculture on the ground. The entire system is at the manager's fingertips for an almost real-time picture of the silviculture program as it unfolds during the active period. Everything from scheduling and monitoring (including the stratified sampling) to budgeting is readily accessible.
"...ESILV has met the original objectives of reducing administration, data handling, paper and cost."
Martha O'Sullivan, Crown Land Silviculture Forester, indicated that the system is the product of thoughtful development and astute integration with the province's GIS and Crown licensees' processes. Improvements to the system occur during meetings each year to review the program's operation with DNR head office, regional staff, and licensees.
New Brunswick has an interactive digital trail rather than a paper trail, with real-time geo-referenced data at every step of the process for the different silviculture program tasks. The data then goes onto the Forest Management Branch's GIS where the forest layers are updated within one month. The updated forest cover typing is subjected to validation during the provincial aerial photo-interpretation that is completed on a ten year rotation.
According to O'Sullivan, the ESILV has met the original objectives of reducing administration, data handling, paper and cost. The system has worked very well with few glitches and has been adopted quickly by users. "As we gain experience, we appreciate that we have not yet fully exploited the benefits and possible applications of the ESILV system. The next likely step will be the integration of harvest operations and silviculture," she said, suggesting that the success of ESILV will support that initiative.
After all, one of the most significant silvicultural treatments is the harvest.
Gaston Damecour is a registered professional forester in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. He is the senior consultant and principal of AGFOR Inc., based in New Brunswick. AGFOR has been instrumental in bringing about significant changes in the forest sector by representing governments and industries on such issues as health and safety, standards for forestry equipment, industrial relations, wood allocations and forest management policy. AGFOR has initiated discussion and collaboration between communities, businesses, and various interest groups.
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