Forest Health in Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks

Video Transcript

[Parks Canada introduction displaying the agency’s beaver logo and English and Frech URLs: “parkscanada.gc.ca” and “parcscanada.gc.ca.” Music plays as a graphic of the Earth comes into view. It zooms in and highlights Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Gros Morne, and Terra Nova National Parks. The speaker in this video is a male narrator unless otherwise indicated.]

Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks are located in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

[The flags of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador appear alongside the graphics of the country and province. Text labels “Newfoundland and Labrador,” “Gros Morne National Park,” and “Terra Nova National Park.” The map of Canada disappears as the view zooms into the island of Newfoundland, with Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks in red. A still photo of a boreal forest landscape appears in the upper right-hand corner.]

On the Island of Newfoundland they are the far eastern edge of Canada’s boreal forest.

[The photo changes to another still photo of a boreal forest and expands to fill the screen. It is then replaced by video of the first boreal forest landscape illustrated in the photo, but from a different angle.]

Boreal forests provide shelter and food for wildlife.

[The image changes to that of another boreal forest scene featuring a prominent cliff. This quickly fades to a misty boreal forest and fades rapidly again to a shot panning through the undergrowth of a boreal forest. While the narrator is speaking, this pan fades to a shot of trees in a boreal forest.]

They release oxygen into the air and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Boreal forests play an important role in slowing climate change and are an important part of Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks.

[Images of caterpillars on a spruce branch, diseased trees in a boreal forest, and a forest fire.]

Healthy boreal forests can suffer insect outbreaks, windstorms, disease, and even fire. This is normal.

[Shot of looking upwards in a boreal forest fades to a hand touching a spruce sapling followed by a new growth on a spruce tree.]

Disturbances remove old trees. They open up the canopy and let in sunlight allowing young trees to grow and seeds to sprout. This is how the forest replaces itself generation after generation.

[Shot of wetland in boreal forest followed by a winter flyover of Gros Morne National Park in winter showing many dead trees and open spaces. Moose running through open areas and snow patches in Gros Morne National Park.]

Today the parks’ forests are not healthy. A large population of moose is eating too many young trees. The cycle of regeneration is broken.

[Historical, black and white, photos of moose on a background depicting a misty Gros Morne Mountain.]

In the early 1900s, moose were introduced to Newfoundland as a source of food. Because they have no natural predators on the island, the population grew rapidly. Today, 117 000 moose live on the island. and moose have become an important part of Newfoundland forests and culture.

[Moose walking through meadow fades to aerial shot of moose running through open areas of the forest in the winter. This is followed by a close-up shot of moose running.]

There are about 5000 moose in Gros Morne National Park.

[Map of Gros Morne National Park illustrating boreal forest cover in the park. Illustration of six moose with lines represting one square kilometre.]

Less than half of the park is boreal forest. This means that there are six moose per square kilometre of forested area, one of the highest densities of moose in North America.

[A moose standing in a pond.]

In summer, moose eat leaves, shoots, and aquatic plants.

[Shots of moose-browsed trees.]

But in winter all that is available for them to eat are the twigs of trees and shrubs.

[Parks Canada scientist walks through a heavily moose browsed area. He inspects a tree before a shot of him speaking to the camera. This is followed by a shot of a moose browsed area.]

Tom Knight, an ecosystems scientist with Parks Canada, has been studying the effects of an over population of Moose in Gros Morne National Park. He sees first hand the damage caused to the forest.

Tom Knight: In summer when there is a lot of food around, Moose will eat other types of plants. They will eat aquatic vegetation. But in the winter time when there is not much other food around they will focus in on shrubs and trees. And that is all they have left to eat. So all this fresh growth that grows on these balsam fir in the summer time will get browsed off. You can see here all these large branches have been chewed off by moose over the years, and so the tree is actually dying bit by bit. They can eat about 25 kilograms of food a day and so a moose moving around an area like this can really take out a lot of the bio mass from all these small trees you see around us.

[Aerial shot of moose browsed forest in Gros Morne National Park. Moose are running.]

This heavy browsing stunts and kills young trees. Without new growth the forest thins out and turns into grassland or scrub.

[Parks Canada scientist speaking to camera in front of forest. Shot of moose browsed boreal forest. Aerial photographs of moose browsed forest.]

Tom Knight: This area behind me is an area that was insect disturbed about 25 years ago. Now that is a normal process in the forest. The mature trees die and fall over, and the young trees will grow and replace them. But what we see here is that most of them haven’t grown much taller than me, and that is because of years and years of moose browsing. We were particularly surprised when we saw satellite images of the park to understand how big these openings have become over 25 years and how much of the area that we thought would be re-generating forest has actually converted to this very open grassland state where it is full of ferns or weeds or grasses.

[Map of Gros Morne National Park illustrating amount of forest damaged by moose browsing.]

Satellite monitoring by Parks Canada shows that through time, over 5 500 hectares of park forest has converted to open habitat.

[Further aerial shot of moose browsed forest.]

Faced with increasing loss of forest habitat, Parks Canada sought out expert advice from foresters, wildlife managers, and local stakeholders. The best solution to restore forest health: a lethal reduction of the park’s moose population.

[Parks Canada scientist inspecting moose browsed tree. Shots of moose and boreal forest.]

Parks Canada is working together with the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Division to have licensed harvesters remove moose from the park. This pilot project begins in the autumn of 2011 and is a major step to restoring a healthy forest and healthy moose population.

[Parks Canada closing cinematic displaying Canada flag logo and the name of the agency in English and French. Copyright text in English and French reading “© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Cnada, represented by Parks Canada, 2011.” and “© Sa Majesté la Reine du Chef du Canada, représentée par Parcs Canada, 2011.” This is followed by the Government of Canada’s “Canada” wordmark.]

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