Canadian Forest Service Publications

Adapting sustainable forest management to climate change: a comprehensive report on scenarios for vulnerability assessment. 2015. Price, D.T.; Isaac, K.J. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, Alberta. Information Report NOR-X-422E. 98 p.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36047

Language: English

Series: Information Report (NoFC - Edmonton)

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


Changes in global climate expected during the 21st century will have profound impacts on forests in Canada and elsewhere. Sustainable forest management objectives will therefore require modification as part of the general need for adaptation to climate change. Work carried out for the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers has focused on developing and implementing tools and methods for adapting forest management in an uncertain future. While the uncertainties are considerable, these cannot be considered an excuse for delaying action, particularly in a long-term endeavor such as forestry. The report reviews scenarios and scenario analysis as one important approach to accounting for uncertainty in forest management decision making. Scenarios include the projections of future global economic and demographic growth as drivers of climate change, of future climate, and of the potential impacts of changes in climate on natural and managed ecosystems. In turn, local impacts on Canada’s forests can have important consequences for dependent communities and regional economies, which can feed back to global scenarios. The report discusses the availability of scenario data, the processes involved in developing local scenarios by stakeholders, and the application of scenarios as part of a vulnerability assessment process for sustainable forest management systems. Case studies of scenarios used in regional and national assessments of climate change impacts on forests are reviewed. Sources of information on scenarios are provided in three appendixes.

Plain Language Summary

Canada’s climate is getting warmer, which will likely have significant effects on Canada’s forests, although many questions remain (e.g., How large are the effects? Will they be positive or negative? When can they be expected?). Sustainable forest management (SFM) is an approach that aims to maintain forest values (including timber, fuel, food, wildlife, and recreation) for present and future generations. Many SFM methods will need to be adapted to account for climate change. One technique in the scientific toolbox to help forest managers and communities adapt is scenario analysis. Scenario analysis involves assessing the range of possible future outcomes, and their potential costs and benefits. Scenarios include projections of future climate, and of the possible resulting changes in forest ecosystems. In turn, these changes may have several effects on communities and regional economies. This report discusses how to find existing scenarios or develop local scenarios and how to use them. It also looks at how to apply scenarios as part of a larger vulnerability assessment process for SFM. Four examples of scenarios, as used in regional and national assessments of climate change impacts on Canadian forests, are reviewed.

Also available under the title:
Adaptation de l’aménagement forestier durable aux changements climatiques : rapport exhaustif sur les scénarios de la vulnérabilité. (French)