Congratulations to Ariane Belleau, recipient of two scholarships of excellence (FRQNT, NSERC), recognizing her academic excellence!

12 May 2023

We are proud and pleased to announce that Ariane Belleau, a Master’s student in forestry sciences with a dissertation, who distinguished herself by her academic excellence and exceptional research leadership, has won two scholarships of excellence (NSERC and FRQNT) for her project on the « carbon footprint of power transmission lines across Quebec’s forest lands ». The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) Master’s Research Scholarship is worth $35,000 over a 2-year period. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)  Graduate Scholarship at the Master’s level (CGS M) is worth $17,500 for one year.

Congratulations Ariane on your outstanding achievement and we wish you much success in your academic career!

As a member of Team Carbone, Ariane works under the direction of Evelyne Thiffault  and the co-direction of David Paré.

The Fonds de recherche du Québec Master’s Research Scholarships and the NSERC Graduate Scholarships at the Master’s level (CGS M) support research excellence by financially assisting the best candidates to undertake or pursue a Master’s program in research.

The CRMR is very proud of this excellent news and we warmly congratulate Ariane on this remarkable achievement!

Summary of the project: 

Quebec could become a major player in the reduction of greenhouse gases thanks to its renewable energy potential. Indeed, Quebec has an incredible potential to export its hydroelectricity to its neighbouring jurisdictions to contribute to their decarbonization. In 2020, this potential was estimated at 32 TWh according to Hydro-Québec’s surplus [1]. However, even if we currently know the impacts of the construction and maintenance of transmission lines on biodiversity, we do not know the real carbon footprint of these lines on the forest territory since the calculations related to land use change in the corridors are currently imprecise [2].

In collaboration with Hydro-Québec and Environment and Climate Change Canada, this project is part of a larger partnership funded by the NSERC Alliance. My master’s project is supervised by Évelyne Thiffault, director of this component of the partnership (forest carbon) and associate professor specializing in forest soils at Université Laval, and David Paré, co-director and research scientist in biogeochemistry and ecosystem productivity at the Canadian Forest Service.

This research aims to quantify the reservoirs (stocks) of biogenic carbon of the network of transmission lines across different Quebec forests in order to describe their dynamics. The different reservoirs measured will be living biomass (above and below-ground biomass), dead organic matter (dead wood and litter), and soil (soil organic matter) [3]. The stock analysis will be done under two gradients of variability: i) the local ecological gradient created by the corridors of the lines themselves and ii) the bioclimatic gradient of the hydroelectric network. To do this, I will study both boreal forests, which are the first to be affected by the hydroelectric network, and hardwood forests near anthropized environments. In total, four bioclimatic regions will be studied. Three to four areas will be selected for each region as replicates. As criteria, the sampled areas will have to have forests on both sides of the lines, consist of a forest representative of the ecological region, and have similar composition and height characteristics. Within each of the study areas, sampling will occur in i) the transportation corridor, ii) the edge ecotones, and iii) the deeper forests as a control. Carbon stock sampling will be based on the Natural Resources Canada Guide to Implementing Environmental Monitoring of Logging Residue Harvesting Effects [4]. Once the reservoirs have been quantified, it will be possible to analyze the data to see if there is an edge effect in the forests surrounding the corridors, or if the proportion of carbon in the stocks varies according to the line maintenance disturbance regime in the bioclimatic domain.

By refining the life-cycle analysis of hydroelectric transmission lines, this project will increase the accuracy of greenhouse gas assessments of hydroelectricity and thus potentially impact future climate policy with respect to hydroelectricity exports.