Canadian Forest Service Publications

Assessing climate change vulnerabilities in northern boreal forests. Miller, L. M., Eddy, B., & Jong, M. V. Z. (2017). International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, 9(2), 23-42.

Year: 2017

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40413

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.18848/1835-7156/CGP/v09i02/23-42

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Climate change is expected to affect Canada's boreal forests significantly. However, the nature and magnitudes of impacts are expected to vary across the country. One proactive approach to adapting to these variable changes is to identify regional vulnerabilities. This research aims to identify vulnerabilities for forests in Western Newfoundland under three scenarios of climate change, by following the core elements of the IPCC vulnerability framework, through expert opinion. Opinions were collected through a questionnaire survey and group discussions where adaptive capacity was evaluated based on the perceived effectiveness of adaptation options and the capacity to implement them. An analysis of the expert opinion data showed that infrastructural damage, alteration of plant and animal distribution, and invasive species were seen as the most significant areas of vulnerability for the forests of Western Newfoundland. This research is the first step toward a more comprehensive vulnerability assessment.

Plain Language Summary

Climate change is expected to lead to impacts for forests throughout the world. Each forest has different physical characteristics and, for those that are managed for timber, different regulatory regimes. This research paper aims to identify climate change vulnerabilities for the forests and forest sector in Western Newfoundland. To this end, local forest and forestry researchers and practitioners attended a one-day workshop to provide expertise on three different scenarios of climate change. For each scenario, they rated the significance of potential climate change impacts, as well as the effectiveness of different adaptation options and the ability to put them into action. The analysis of the experts’ responses suggests that the greatest vulnerabilities may be infrastructure damage, invasive species, species no longer being suited to their habitats, and the combined effect of climate related and other impacts, such as human development. This research is preliminary and would benefit from more comprehensive research, particularly through interviews and focus groups with the same or similar experts. The observations made throughout this research could help the development of interview and focus group questions to improve understanding of the vulnerabilities that the forests and forest sector in Western Newfoundland face.