Canadian Forest Service Publications

A framework for assessing vulnerability of forest-based communities to climate change. 2007. Williamson, T.B.; Price, D.T.; Beverly, J.; Bothwell, P.M.; Parkins, J.R.; Patriquin, M.N.; Pearce, C.; Stedman, R.C.; Volney, W.J.A. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, Alberta. Information Report NOR-X-414E. 50 p.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 27507

Language: English

Series: Information Report (NoFC - Edmonton)

Availability: PDF (download)

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This report describes a general framework for and approach to assessing the vulnerability of forest-based communities to climate change and the potentially increased risks associated with such change. Communities that face relatively high levels of exposure to climate change and that are highly sensitive to changes in the composition and productivity of forests and to changes in forest disturbances (e.g., wildfire), or that have relatively low adaptive capacity (because of factors such as individual immobility, low economic diversity, remoteness, or lack of autonomy) will be vulnerable to climate change. This report identifies specific elements that should be considered in assessing vulnerability and outlines a series of steps that researchers or a community itself may follow to systematically determine sources of vulnerability to climate change. The first phase is to engage the community, develop a context for assessment, and obtain data on past and current climate and future climate scenarios. The second phase is to interpret what the anticipated climate changes may mean in terms of the surrounding forests and to determine the resulting social and economic impacts, including changes in local timber supply; employment and income effects; increases in the risk of wildfire; changes in the economic viability of local firms (because of structural change in global markets); changes in forest health, wildlife, fisheries, forest esthetics, water quality and quantity, traditional and cultural activities, and outdoor recreation opportunities; and increases in instability, volatility, and uncertainty in the local economy. The third phase is to measure the local capacity for adaptation. Many factors affect adaptive capacity, including wealth, mobility, education, social networks, trust, institutions, risk perceptions, and natural resource endowments. An important consideration is that the capacity to adapt exists both as a property of individual households and firms and as a general property of the community and the local economy. Therefore, an accurate portrayal of adaptive capacity requires measurement at different levels of aggregation. Adaptive capacity may also vary depending on whether it is assessed over the short term (where assets are fixed) or over the long term (where assets are variable). The framework presented in this document is a tool that communities can use to gather information that will help them identify where they are most vulnerable to climate change.

Also available under the title:
Cadre d'évaluation de la vulnérabilité des communautés forestières au changement climatique (French)