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We know that forests are the single greatest tool we have to sequester carbon on a large scale to mitigate the effects of climate change. But, what if forests are themselves not able to cope with the effects of climate change?
The Acadian Forest Region, of which New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are part, has been extensively degraded through centuries of intensive land-use and forestry practices. Over the years, these practices have altered the unique composition of this special forest and yielded a landscape that is patchy, relatively young and suffers from a lack of diversity and complex habitats. Specifically, forest management has typically converted complex, diverse, resilient Acadian forest into extensive single-aged, softwood-dominated forests that are more similar to the Boreal Forest found throughout much of the Canada, than to the historic forest of this region.
Why does this matter in the context of climate change? Well, a degraded forest’s lack of complexity and diversity reduces its ability to securely sequester significant amounts of carbon and to adapt to a changing climate. Unhealthy forests and forests that lack diversity—in both age and species composition—often act as a source of carbon emissions; they are more vulnerable to insect attacks, drought stress, and other disturbances that cause them to degrade even more rapidly, releasing their stored carbon back into the atmosphere.
A degraded forest’s lack of complexity and diversity reduces its ability to securely sequester significant amounts of carbon and to adapt to a changing climate.
As climates in the Acadian Forest Region become generally warmer and wetter, so too do growing conditions for tree species. Many cold-adapted boreal species will no longer find this region hospitable. As Acadian forests have been transformed to be more like the Boreal Forest, the Maritimes’ forests are less resilient to these changes and will suffer further. Community Forests International is working to manage Acadian forests to store more carbon and mitigate climate change, as well as restore climate change-resilient species to allow the Acadian Forest to better adapt to climate change.
Our Forest Ecologist, Megan de Graaf, leads our climate-adaptive silviculture work. She works tirelessly with forestry professionals and organizations across New Brunswick to integrate climate adaptation into forest management.
In collaboration with silviculturalist Gareth Davies and the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, we have created a series of tools and resources to support forestry professionals to manage forests to prioritize climate change resilient forests. Check out the resources developed to date:
In 2019, we hosted a 1-day workshop in Fredericton that included presentations on climate change and introduced the first edition of new silviculture prescription guidelines that consider climate change impacts. You can watch the presentations from the workshop here.