MIDS Capstone Project Summer 2023

Boreal Forest Carbon Forecaster

This project was completed by Anshuman Awathi, Patricia Gallagher, and Evan Fjeld with support from the Wildlands League as the final project for the University of California at Berkeley's School of Information Master's in Data Science program. The final project was completed in the summer term of 2023.

The objective of this project was to develop a user-friendly app that offers the Wildlands League valuable insights into the climate impact of Logging Scars. This innovative tool not only presents real GPP data spanning from 2002 to 2022 but also provides projections for GPP extending from 2023 to 2050. These projections were generated using a Temporal Fusion Transformer Model.  

The Wildlands League released a report in 2019 showcasing 270 barren sites, labeled as logging scars, that have remained treeless for up to three decades due to road construction and heavy equipment use related to forest operations. Logging scars are areas in forests where the regrowth of trees is suppressed due to compacted soil resulting from machinery and the decay of tree "waste" piles that suffocate future growth. These scars exist outside of Ontario's forest management planning and make up an estimated 10.2% to 23.7% of reforested areas post-logging. The total deforested area across these scars amounts to approximately 650,000 hectares, creating a significant net deforestation impact that has been largely overlooked. These scars are not considered in forest area calculations by provincial and federal governments or in carbon storage estimations for Canada's boreal forest, used in international climate reporting. The deforestation issue has far-reaching implications for climate change, the preservation of threatened species like boreal caribou, and the sustainable timber supply. Despite this, the province aims to increase logging while reducing regulations, recently removing environmental safeguards for forest operations. This situation raises concerns about the potential negative impacts on environmental sustainability and biodiversity in Canada's untouched boreal forests.

Last updated:

August 8, 2023