Informing and Supporting Climate Change Adaptation in Forests through Monitoring

Submitted by Climate Risk Institute | published 14th Sep 2022 | last updated 10th Oct 2022
Informing and Supporting Climate Change Adaptation in Forests through Monitoring

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.

Given the large uncertainties associated with climate change, regular and systematic measurement is the primary means for understanding what changes are actually taking place and for gathering data that can be used to improve models to predict future change. Recognizing this important information need, the Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative in partnership with the Forest and Range Evaluation Program of the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations engaged University of British Columbia researchers to develop a strategy for monitoring forest and rangeland species and ecosystem processes in light of climate change. 

From the outset a stepwise approach was planned based on a multi-phased implementation plan. Work representing Phases 1 and 2 of the project was conducted between September 2008 and June 2009. Through this work a series of recommended indicators for monitoring in light of climate change were isolated along with a list of potential data sources and suppliers for supporting the analysis of those indicators. A summary of this work, presented in Chapter 2, outlines the seventeen recommended indicators under the criteria-level headers of biodiversity (5 indicators), natural disturbance (4 indicators) and ecosystem drivers (7 indicators). 

Phase 3 of the project, initiated in early 2010, effectively builds on work conducted during Phases 1 and 2, further developing the monitoring framework. Two key work activities were planned for this phase, the first of which was a Forest and Range Climate Change Adaptation Monitoring and Reporting: Information Needs Analysis Survey. This work activity sought to better identify the framework’s target audience and their key information needs and management questions with regard to climate change adaption through the use of a web based survey. Chapter 3 describes this work in detail.

The second area of work involved the development of approaches to measuring selected indicators and an in-depth analysis of current monitoring and inventory programs available to support their evaluation. This involved proposing approaches to measuring indicators examining: ecosystem distribution and composition, forest productivity, species diversity, ecosystem connectivity, fire, and insects and diseases. To the extent possible and appropriate, the data available to support the indicators was tested on a region in the south-east of BC. Chapters 4 to 9 describe the processes undertaken for each of these indicators. Results indicate that for most of these indicators there are good data sources available in the Province to support their analysis either in their current form or with some minor bolstering or adjustment. One indicator for which data was particularly lacking was examining species diversity.