Canadian Forest Service Publications

Disturbing forest disturbances. 2005. Volney, W.J.A.; Hirsch, K.G. Forestry Chronicle 81(5): 662-668.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25750

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

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Abstract

The forest sector in Canada makes a significant contribution to the wealth of the nation. Many of our forest ecosystems, like the phoenix, need fire for rebirth and renewal. In contrast, other forests rely on a cool, wet disintegration driven by insects and their commensal fungi feeding on trees to effect this renewal. This disparity has a manifest difference in the character of these forests and how they have developed and evolved over thousands of years. While there are characteristic natural temporal and spatial patterns to these disturbances, recent work has shown that they are being perturbed by global change. Compounding these perturbations is the emergence of extensive anthropogenic disturbances in these forests. If humans continue trying to manage complex natural systems as though they were machines, problems with unknown consequences will compound. For example, we have only recently begun to understand that changes in disturbance regimes can generate positive feedbacks leading to what could amount to sudden and drastic change for certain forest communities. Systems-based techniques aimed at adapting to these consequences are emerging and will need to be implemented in a timely fashion to minimize the risks and maximize the opportunities associated with sustainable forest management under a changing climate.