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Research Branch Staff Publications

Climate change: implications for the Boreal forest.

Stewart, R.B., E. Wheaton, and D.L. Spittlehouse. 1998. Climate change: implications for the Boreal forest. In: Emerging Air Issues for the 21st Century: The Need for Multidisciplinary Mangement, Proceedings of a Speciality Conference, Sep. 22-24, 1997, Calgary, AB, Legge, A.H. and L.L. Jones (eds.), Air and Waste Management Assoc., Pittsburg, PA, pp 86-101.
The findings of the recent IPPC Second Assessment Report conclude that the boreal forest is more sensitive and will be more affected by climate change than either temperate or tropical forests. Results suggest that over the next century in response to projected changes in temperature and moisture patterns the boreal ecosystem will undergo major changes in ecosystem boundaries, growth and natural disturbances related to fire and insects. This paper outlines the key highlights of the IPCC and more recent literature in terms of the effects of climate change for the boreal forest over the next 100 years. As well, the boreal forest appears to be responding to environmental changes that have occurred over the last century and more particularly over the last 30 years. Changes in boreal ecosystems related to the permafrost zone, vegetation productivity, disturbances related to fire and the carbon cycle have been noted. This paper reviews some of the major highlights of the changes that have been noted.

Many of the changes projected for the boreal forest that forest managers will have to respond to in relation to climate change are not new. Subsequently, forest managers have many tools at their disposal that will enable them to assist the forest to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The challenge for forest managers will be dealing with the rate and intensity of change that occurs. This paper outlines broadly some of the things forest managers can and are doing to respond to climate change. As well, additional actions forest managers need to take to better prepare for and respond to climate change are briefly discussed.

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