Forest Industry Lecture Series

View more photos of the November 2022 FILS in the gallery

Mark March 2, 2023 in your calendar for our next FILS event!

Lindsy Halleckson presents: The breath of the forest: Visualizing the unseen.


88th Forest Industry Lecture: Dr. Heinrich Spiecker

“Human and climate influence on tree species composition of temperate forests in Europe and its impact on timber supply.”

Seminar Abstract

In Europe, temperate forests play a prominent role in timber production, nature protection, water conservation, erosion control, and recreation. For centuries forests in Europe have been affected by forest devastation and soil degradation by exploitation, grazing, and litter racking. Applying great efforts to eliminate the severe wood shortage of those days, countermeasures were taken during the last 150 years by regenerating and tending highly productive forests. Coniferous species, primarily Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.), were often favoured because they were easy to establish and manage and gave reason for high volume growth and income expectations. High growth rates, an increasing growing stock, and high wood quality of these forests indicate that formerly stated goals have been successfully achieved. Today coniferous forests expand far beyond the limits of their natural ranges. European temperate forests today are the result of centuries of human activities. Most of the forests have been planted or seeded and species composition has been subject to drastic changes.

The shift to non-site-adapted tree species reduced the resistance against storms, snow, ice, droughts, insects, fungi, and fire. Some of these hazards were further intensified by the increasing growing stock per ha and the increasing average stand age. Heavy storms and especially dramatic increases in the frequency and intensity of extremely warm and dry climatic conditions in recent years have had a considerable impact on these forest ecosystems. The changing demands of today require a widened scope of forest management. Society is asking for sustainable forestry emphasizing biodiversity and naturalistic forest management. High labour costs and relatively low wood prices favour these trends. On the other hand, mitigating climate change and green economy are asking for highly productive forests.

Adjustments of management through a conversion of the prevailing forests need to be considered with priority. But, how the future forest should look is discussed controversially, often not rationally. Should non-native tree species such as Douglas-fir substitute the role of Norway spruce? How much forest management is needed? The high diversity in site conditions, ownership, economic and socio-cultural conditions require strategies adapted to local and regional needs. Higher resistance of forests will increase the economic and social benefits of forests and reduce the risks by maintaining sustainable forestry.

Questions? Contact Stacy Bergheim, FILS Coordinator, Department of Renewable Resources at (780) 492-0447 or email:


FILS History

The Forest Industry Lecture Series (FILS) began and 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 enrolled in Fall of 1970, initiated as a faculty program through the vision of Fenton MacHardy, then Dean of Agriculture. In 1975, 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, 1975 and 1976, this new outside funding supported two visiting lecturers: Maxwell MacLaggan and 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 was executive director. Rytz was a forester, graduating from UBC after wartime service in southeast Asia. This collaborative approach to shared funding enables this lecture series to achieve the success it enjoys today.

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

The above information was written
by the late Peter Murphy.


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