With climate change slowly building intensity around the globe, the future of West Kootenay forests, and how they’re managed, is undergoing an assessment for resilience and vulnerability during 2010 and 2011. This website is the location to follow that assessment.
The website provides a description of the project and project team, contacts for further information and periodic progress reports. The website will also be a vehicle for distributing information regarding a series of workshops for technical specialists, forest managers and other stakeholders that will occur periodically as the project develops. The final reports for the project will be made available through the website in early 2012.
A local team of West Kootenay researchers have been awarded a two-year contract by the provincial government to carry out this work. The province has recognized that the impacts of climate change on our forests may demand new approaches to forest management. But the first step is to understand the changes.
The overall goal of this innovative project is to develop knowledge that will improve society’s chances of maintaining the values currently provided by forests – from timber supply to clean water and wildlife habitat.
The team will begin by looking at global climate models and applying what they are predicting to the West Kootenay. Once the team understands the potential range of local climate changes, they will assess how forest ecosystems will be affected. Some ecosystems may be highly vulnerable to climate change, while others may be resilient, and more able to adapt.
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.
The team will also hold 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 will be 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.
This project is funded by the Future Forest Ecosystem Scientific Council, created by the BC Ministry of Forests. The team is lead by biologist Dr. Rachel Holt, and also includes conservation ecologist Greg Utzig, forester Heather Pritchard and economist/ community animator Mike Stolte. This project was one of 16 awarded from among 100 proposals submitted to the Council in 2009.