Tomorrows Forests Adapting To A Changing Climate

DON C. MACIVER1 and ELAINE WHEATON2

Meteorological Service of Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Downsview, Ontario, Canada, M3H 5T4

E-mail: [email protected] 2Saskatchewan Research Council, 15 Innovation Blvd., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7N 2X8

Abstract. Today's forests are largely viewed as a natural asset, growing in a climate envelope, which favors natural regeneration of species that have adapted and survived the variability's of past climates. However, human-induced climate change, variability and extremes are no longer a theoretical concept. It is a real issue affecting all biological systems. Atmospheric scientists, using global climate models, have developed scenarios of the future climate that far exceed the traditional climate envelope and their associated forest management practices. Not all forests are alike, nor do they share the same adaptive life cycles, feedbacks and threats. Much of tomorrow's forests will become farmed forests, managed in a pro-active, designed and adaptive envelope, to sustain multiple products, values and services. Given the life cycle of most forest species, forest management systems will need to radically adjust their limits of knowledge and adaptive strategies to initiate, enhance and plan forests in relative harmony with the future climate. Protected Areas (IUCN), Global Biosphere Reserves (UNESCO) and Smithsonian Institution sites provide an effective community-based platform to monitor changes in forest species, ecosystems and biodiversity under changing climatic conditions.

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