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Montreal researcher awarded for work in long-term sustainability of forests

Montreal, QC – This week, Dr Christian Messier, professor of biological sciences at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal and a principal investigator with the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Network, received the inaugural Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Chairs’Award. He was awarded for his innovative simulation models that have the potential of ensuring the sustainable management of Canada’s forests in the long term.

The tax-free $15,000 award is made possible through the contributions of NCE industry partners in recognition of the significant value they derive from their ongoing collaborations with NCE researchers.

Dr Messier’s discoveries have the potential to make Canada’s forest companies more competitive by helping them to obtain the strictest environmental certifications such as FSC Certification. In one of his projects, he illustrates the way to increase native tree species diversity in intensive forest plantations that use only 20% of a landscape area while implementing both ecosystem management and protected areas for the remaining 80%. In so doing, he shows how Canada can increase both timber production and ecosystem protection at the same time.

Dr Messier developed this scenario through a mix of laboratory and field experiments that he conducted in four countries including Canada, Finland, France and Panama. He also collaborated to create two new highly sophisticated computer simulation tools to both analyze the data from these large landscape experiments and to predict how a complex mixture of native tree species will develop over time.

His computer simulation models include highly specialized ecophysiological information, the basic research information about how plant cells become woody, and the latest information to test the impact of various silvicultural treatments both locally and regionally.

“As physicists can create a computer simulation of complex physical reactions based upon the knowledge of minute details, we can now do the same for forests, he says.

His research involved ecologists, biologists, environmentalists, economists, social scientists and forest managers from various organizations and levels of government as well as Aboriginal people.

Dr Messier says he plans to use his $15,000 award in a high school contest to promote the value of trees in our environment. The two best proposals will each receive $7,500 over four years towards their project.