Adapting Forestry Programs for Climate Change

Submitted by Climate Risk Institute | published 15th Sep 2022 | last updated 28th Sep 2022
Adapting Forestry Programs for Climate Change

Executive Summary

This resource was submitted by the Climate Risk Institute for use by the CanAdapt Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice.  

This article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text. 

The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (LSPP) recognizes that stewardship is an essential tool in achieving the LSPP’s objectives related to natural heritage, water quality and climate adaptation, and that stewardship approaches will need to evolve over time as more is learned, accomplishments are made and new priorities emerge. Maintaining, expanding and enhancing tree canopy cover across the watershed is critical for protecting and restoring water quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed, especially in the face of increased development and projected changes in local and regional climatic conditions. The species recommended for afforestation and reforestation projects, and the timing of planting, may need to be revised to account for future climate changes. 

LSPP Policy 8.9-SA directs those involved in stewardship to assess stewardship programming, and modify as necessary, to address priority needs in the watershed. The Lake Simcoe Climate Change Adaptation Strategy calls for the planting of climate resilient tree species. Furthermore, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s (LSRCA) 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, Vision to action, action to results (LSRCA, 2016), Goal 2 sets out to “improve knowledge and increase certainty through excellence in research and scientific knowledge”, with a Priority Action of developing a Lake Simcoe Watershed Climate Adaptation Strategy. This project was initiated to facilitate such efforts.  

To address these needs, LSRCA has undertaken a comprehensive study into the impacts of climate change on tree planting and forest management, and the ways in which these programs might be adapted for climate change. Funding support was provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). This project is intended to provide knowledge transfer to LSRCA staff, municipal staff and members of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) active in the Lake Simcoe watershed, on how to include climate change considerations in planning for afforestation, natural area enhancement and restoration and urban tree planting.  

The objectives of this project were to:

1) Develop a revised list of tree species that may be used to improve the effectiveness and success of restoration, afforestation, LID and stormwater management plans in the watershed;

2) Incorporate recommended changes into LSRCA programming; and

3) Transfer that knowledge to municipalities, Conservation Authorities and ENGOs within the Lake Simcoe watershed and beyond.

It was also recognized that improving the effectiveness and success of forestry programs will require more than an updated planting list, and the project was expanded to consider how forest management practices can be adapted for a changing climate. 

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