Canadian Forest Service Publications

Vulnerability of timber supply to projected changes in fire regime in Canada’s managed forests. 2015. Gauthier, S.; Bernier, P.Y.; Boulanger, Y.; Guo, J.; Guindon, L.; Beaudoin, A., Boucher, D. Can. J. For. Res. 45:1439-1447.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36169

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2015-0079

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The frequency of forest fires is predicted to increase in Canada, which may affect the availability of timber for industrial purposes. We therefore carried out an evaluation of the timber supply vulnerability to current and future fire risk through simplified calculations involving historical forest growth and harvest rates, and current and projected forest burn rates. Calculations were performed at the level of forest management areas (FMAs) across the boreal and montane ecozones of Canada. For some FMAs, the vulnerability of timber supply to fire was estimated to be high to extreme by the middle of the century. For those FMAs, the increases in tree growth necessary to negate these risks were generally unrealistic. A modest simulated decrease in tree growth over time, however, was sufficient to raise the vulnerability of many other FMAs from low to moderate. Known biases in the analysis suggest that our assessment might underestimate the level of vulnerability in all FMAs. Other natural disturbances are not included in the analysis but their impact on timber supply may be additive to that of fire. Some adaptation measures to face these increasing risks are discussed.

Plain Language Summary

In Canada, the current timber supply is planned on the basis of sustainability over a period of several decades. However, the projected greater risk of forest fires makes this current level of supply very or extremely vulnerable to fire impact from now until mid century in several boreal and montane forest management units. In addition, the projected increases in tree growth that are necessary to mitigate these risks are believed to be unrealistic in general.

Moreover, in several other forest management units where the timber supply is less vulnerable to the impact of fire, a decrease in tree growth, even a modest one, would be enough to raise the degree of vulnerability from low to moderate.

Other natural disturbances, such as insects, are not included in the analysis, but their impacts on the timber supply may influence these findings.