Technical Bulletins & Special Reports

Technical Bulletin No. 0959: Fragmentation in the Boreal Forest and Possible Effects on Terrestrial Life

In forest management, “fragmentation” is a term often used to describe altering habitat amount and/or habitat area on a given landscape, and its effects on a host of flora and fauna. Fragmentation is often mentioned as a negative ecological consequence of timber production in Canada’s boreal forest, contributing to effects on a range of wildlife populations. The purpose of this report is to synthesize the available literature on fragmentation in the boreal and its effects on terrestrial vertebrates. The authors surveyed a wide range of scientific works originating primarily from Canada’s boreal forest, with some studies from Scandinavia and temperate North America. The results suggest that clarity and consistency is needed when examining forest fragmentation, as the term has been used in a variety of ways across the scientific literature, and has included a range of possible effects, confounding the results. Further, the report notes that the measured effects on terrestrial wildlife are scale-, landscape- and often species-specific, contributing to inconsistencies in the measured effects on populations. The authors suggest a number of research needs, including investigations into the temporal nature of fragmentation, the need for productivity- and population-level assessments, the investigation of fragmentation effects on lesser known or rare species, and a need to translate the effects of changing landscape metrics to wildlife populations.