The Yukon government is engaging in a new forest mapping project for the Haines Junction area.
The two-year $764,000 contract was awarded to Alberta’s Timberline Forest Inventory Consultants last month.
The project will create a detailed map of 1.47 million hectares of southwestern Yukon forest.
Kirk Price, operations manger for the government’s forest management branch, said the real power behind the project is not just the map that will be created, but the data behind it.
Information on trees and vegetation will be available for things like Wildland Fire Management or environmental assessments.
“For our branch, we primarily use it to help plan out wood supply. It helps us address all the forest management issues,” he said.
That includes looking at the amount of dead wood in the area, killed by the past spruce bark beetle infestation.
Wildland firefighters will be able to use the data to estimate the likely path of a forest fire, while Environment officials could use the same information to pinpoint important wildlife habitat.
The last report like this for the area was completed from 1990 to 1992.
“It got completed just prior to the bark beetle epidemic. It got finished, it was a nice healthy green forest, and then the beetles got started, around that time in the early 90s,” Price said.
“It gave a good snapshot in time for just before the beetle. About three or four years ago (the beetles) died off and have gone back to normal levels.”