Renewable Resources

Forest Industry Lecture Series

RR past chairs discussing lecture
Yousry Guest Lecturer
Renewable Resources Chair Ellen Macdonald speaking
FILS Lecture attendees group chat
Forest Industry Lecture

81st Forest Industry Lecture

March 7, 2019

Title: Silviculture in Alberta: past, present and where to next.

Victor Lieffers

Victor Lieffers has been a Professor of silviculture and forest ecology since 1983 and is the past Chair of the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta and past Chief Editor of the Canadian Journal of Forest Research. He has published extensively in the areas of forest regeneration, ecophysiology, forest ecology, mixedwood forestry and silvicultural practices and policies. Vic has supervised >70 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and is currently the Chair of the Rocky Mountain Section of the Canadian Institute of Forestry.

Short Abstract

In the past 70 years, Alberta silviculture has shifted away from a leave for natural regeneration after logging. In early years there was deep concern about a lack of regeneration of conifers after cutting. This concern promoted the research and development of improve nursery planting stock and procedures for handling and out-planting of seedlings, where today planting is the preferred means of regenerating conifers on most sites where they are desired. This shift towards planting, was coupled with increases in complexity of rules surrounding forest regeneration – linked to the performance of the regeneration and to the growth and yield of the stand and allowable cut of the forest. A more regulated forest is the result. I will make the argument that in future, silvicultural practices and outcomes for stands need to be more complex and variable. Forest resistance and resilience to disturbance may be the primary driver for what types of stands we produce. Resilience will be important to various aspects of biodiversity but it may also play an important role in maintaining forest growth and yield.


The Forest Industry Lecture Series (FILS) began and was developed as a collaborative event by members of the “forestry community” in Alberta to enrich the Forestry Program at the University of Alberta. The first Forestry class had enrolled in the fall of 1970, initiated as a Faculty program through the vision of Dr. Fenton MacHardy, then Dean of Agriculture. In 1975, Dr. Allan A. Warrack, then Minister of Lands and Forests in the new Peter Lougheed government, made an offer to Dean MacHardy, saying that he had done well in developing the forestry program, but students needed enrichment through speakers from outside who could bring in fresh insights. The offer was that his Department would match any outside funds the Faculty could raise to support a position or lecture series.

Several of the larger forest products companies in western Canada immediately responded and for two years, in 1975 and 1976, this new outside funding supported two visiting lecturers: Maxwell MacLaggan and Dr. Desmond I. Crossley whose expertise were respectively: forest industry, logging and forest products; silviculture and forest management.

In the meantime, Arden A. Rytz encouraged the sawmilling and plywood industries to add their support through the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA), of which he had become executive director. Arden Rytz was a forester, graduating from UBC after wartime service in south-east Asia. This collaborative approach to shared funding has enabled this lecture series to achieve the level of success that it enjoys today.

The first designated Forest Industry Lecture was given in 1977 by the noted Canadian internationally respected forester Dr. Ross Silversides, who spoke on Industrial forestry in a changing Canada. The University and the Department of Renewable Resources in particular, deeply appreciates the support of its many sponsors.

Dr. Peter Murphy
Professor Emeritus