Climate change is expected to bring changes in the frequency and severity of forest fires, storms and insect outbreaks, and in the amount of snow accumulated throughout the winter. All these factors affect the productivity, and even survival, of forest ecosystems.
These changes will have significant impacts on most species over the coming decades, potentially resulting in increased stress, shifts in species ranges, and possibly a dramatic increase in the extinction rate. Numerous recent publications have called for strengthened conservation measures to reduce the potential negative impacts of climate change on biological diversity. There is also recognition that some traditional conservation tools, such as providing connectivity and representation analysis, need updating in response to the new challenges of climate change.
With climate change slowly building intensity around the globe, the future of West Kootenay forests, and how they’re managed, is also a growing concern for forest managers and local residents. This website provides information on two projects that are attempting to provide information on what changes may be anticipated, and potential measures that may assist in adapting to those changes - focusing on conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems.
Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment Project
The first project was an assessment for resilience and vulnerability that took place between 2010 and 2012. This website provides a description of the project and project team, and access to the reports produced. The project was carried out by a local team of West Kootenay researchers under contract to the British Columbia Provincial Government.
The team began by looking at global climate models and applying what they are predicting to the West Kootenay. Once the team developed an understanding of the potential range of local climate changes, they assessed how forest ecosystems may be affected.
The team held a series of workshops with forest and land managers, environmental groups, and other stakeholders to share learning about climate change impacts and work together to determine how management practices may need to be modified. Management practices were examined at a range of levels, from decisions about what tree species to plant in individual stands, to provincial-level policies that may be creating barriers to effective climate change adaptation.
The second project builds on the first project by extending the area of climate projections to include the Monashee Mountains and Okanagan Highlands to the West, the Northern Selkirk and Purcell Mountains to the north, and the Rocky Mountains to the east.
The primary purpose of the project is to identify how appropriate land use zoning in southeastern British Columbia can contribute to meeting biological conservation goals over the coming decades. The unique feature of this analysis is the specific inclusion of climate change considerations in the planning exercise.
As of early 2015 this project is still ongoing, and this website will be providing periodic updates of the various products as they become available.