The Foothills are dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forests. This is because pine is one of the first trees to regenerate after a wildfire. Its cones are protected with a waxy resin that requires fire or heat to release the seeds. Without regular wildfires or other disturbances such as harvesting, the Foothills forest would eventually be dominated by spruce or fir forests; however, with a historic fire return interval of 80-100 years, the Foothills is predominantly pine.
The forest surrounding Hinton is a “working forest”, harvested for lumber and paper products. If you travel through or fly over the forests managed by West Fraser, you may notice that modern harvest areas are different shapes and sizes, following ecological boundaries. This practice is called Ecosystem-based Management (EBM). The goal of EBM is to maintain natural forest patterns and ages similar to wildfire. For more information visit the Lessons From Nature website