2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research recipient
Spruce is one of the dominant tree species in forests across Yukon. When a spruce bark beetle infestation struck Kluane between 1990 and 2012, killing more than half of the region’s mature spruce trees, it had significant economic, environmental and social implications. What’s more, climate change is creating uncertainty about future forest composition and disturbance trends in the territory.
A master’s student in geography at Queen’s University, Sandra is studying the accuracy of using airborne remote sensing data (lidar and imaging spectrometry) to map the impacts of that devastating spruce bark beetle epidemic.
Sandra’s work aims to provide maps of forest mortality, regeneration and composition of both the canopy and the vegetation beneath it. Understanding what species of vegetation grew following the infestation, how forests’ structure and function have changed, and the added fire potential of beetle-killed timber will be useful for future forest management planning and fire-prevention efforts.