The Green River Project ran from 1945 – 1959 in northwestern New Brunswick. It was initiated in the Green River Watershed by current-day Canadian Forest Service following a widespread eastern spruce budworm outbreak in the area. The aim of the project was to manage the impacts of that and future outbreaks through understanding the species’ population dynamics. Although the project began as an insect research project, it later began to include small mammals, pathology, and forest ecology and management.
Harnessing historical datasets like the ones amassed during the Green River Project is important for understanding changes over time, which in turn helps with predicting changes in the future. Therefore, the Living Data Project can assist in making these datasets accessible to the wider scientific audience. The main goals of the Living Data - Green River project included: 1) developing a comprehensive strategy for processing and digitizing archived data from this project, 2) creating analysis friendly data for scientific computing, 3) publishing the project data as a data article and 4) using the data to address scientific questions relevant to ongoing efforts at spruce budworm population control in Atlantic Canada.
The Green River Project datasets currently exist as datasheets and departmental reports at Hugh John Flemming Forestry Centre, Fredericton NB. Living Data intern, Skye Butterson, moved to Frederiction for six weeks to work on these paper records under the supervision of Drs. Rob Johns and Sara Edwards (Natural Resources Canada). Their aim was to inventory the data that existed since there was no true record of what data existed where it was and what the gaps were. This meant that the six-week internship was spent digging through boxes, reading and scanning beautifully preserved typewritten pages, and putting together a searchable inventory with metadata of measurements in these reports (and where they were – which turned out to be an important factor in how useful the data was).
The internship ended with a joint meeting between information management and the project team to discuss the continued collaboration and the potential for the Green River Project process for archiving to serve as a template for future data rescue in the Canadian Forest Service. Already the inventory has been used to find, validate and input datasheets into workable spreadsheets by CFS technicians, allowing the next Living Data Project interns on this project to focus on data cleaning, data collation and archiving.
Dr. Peter Fullerton, the Regional Director General of the Atlantic Forestry Centre, enthused about Skye’s internship: “Her efforts will contribute to a better understanding of trends in Spruce Budworm populations and will, in turn, enhance our research on an Early Intervention Strategy (EIS) -a new approach to controlling and stopping insect outbreaks. In tum, we aimed to provide her with a beneficial career experience, giving her insight into government research organizations and adding to her network of collaborators.”