Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 833–861

Climate change adaptation and regional forest planning in southern Yukon, Canada

Authors

    • Sustainable Forest Management Laboratory, Department of Forest Resources Management, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of British Columbia
    • Forest Management Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and ResourcesGovernment of Yukon
  • J. L. Innes
    • Sustainable Forest Management Laboratory, Department of Forest Resources Management, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of British Columbia
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11027-008-9144-7

Cite this article as:
Ogden, A.E. & Innes, J.L. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2008) 13: 833. doi:10.1007/s11027-008-9144-7

Abstract

Recent interest in sustainable forest management planning in the Yukon has coincided with growing public awareness of climate change, providing an opportunity to explore how forestry plans are incorporating climate change. In this paper, the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Traditional Territory (CATT) and the Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territory (TTTT) are examined for evidence of adaptation to climate change. For each plan, management policies and practices that are also recognized as ways to adapt to climate change are identified to provide information on the incremental costs and benefits of additional adaptation efforts. A typology for classifying sustainable forest management plans according to how they address climate change is proposed and applied to the CATT and TTTT plans. This typology, which may be useful to any future retrospective assessments on how successful these or other sustainable forest management plans have been in addressing and managing the risks posed by climate change, consists of a matrix that categorizes plans into one of four types; (1) proactive-direct, (2) proactive-indirect, (3) reactive-direct, and (4) reactive-indirect. Neither of the plans available for the southern Yukon explicitly identifies climate change vulnerabilities and actions that will be taken to reduce those vulnerabilities and manage risks. However, both plans have incorporated some examples of ‘best management practices’ for sustainable forest management that are also consistent with appropriate climate adaptation responses. Even in a jurisdiction facing rapid ecological changes driven by climate change, where there is a relatively high level of awareness of climate change and its implications, forestry planning processes have yet to grapple directly with the risks that climate change may pose to the ability of forest managers to achieve the stated goals and objectives of sustainable forest management plans.

Keywords

AdaptationBoreal forestClimate changeForestrySustainable forest managementForest management plansYukon

1 Introduction

There is mounting evidence of the high sensitivity of northern forested ecosystems to climate change. In recent decades, relatively minor climate changes (in comparison to what is projected to take place over the next century) have triggered significant ecological responses, including a large-scale bark beetle outbreak (Parmesean and Yohe 2003; Juday et al. 2005; Scholze et al. 2006; ACIA 2004; Ogden 2007). Northern forest-dependent communities are expected to be significantly impacted by these ecological changes because of their strong connections to forested ecosystems (Davidson et al. 2003). While there has been much discussion of the potential impacts of climate change on forestry, these discussions have generally not been incorporated into action by forest managers, despite the increasing challenges that climate change will pose to forest managers working to achieve sustainable forest management. To date, discussions around when, where and how to incorporate adaptation considerations into forest management and planning have been limited. However, of necessity, forest managers in the boreal region are already adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The current situation in the Yukon Territory of Canada presents tremendous opportunities to explore adaptation in a sustainable forest management context. Elevated insect and fire disturbance regimes, characterized by a magnitude, intensity and severity that surpass the natural range of variation, are associated with climate change in the boreal forest (ACIA 2004). Currently, large-scale disturbance events are driving the forest industry in the Yukon, as is evident by the dominance of salvage harvest opportunities. In 2004, over 1.7 million hectares of the Territory were burned, nearly twice the previous record of 889,000 ha in 1958 (Government of Yukon 2007a), and the following year over 300,000 m3 in salvage timber permits were issued. In 2006, a request for proposals for 1,000,000 m3 was issued to salvage wood from the 380,000 ha spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) infestation in the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Traditional Territory in the southwest Yukon, considered to be the largest infestation ever recorded in Canada (ACIA 2004).

As a result of recently settled land claims for much of the Yukon Territory, strategic forest management planning has been initiated, with the first plan being approved in December 2004 and the second in January 2007. In the Yukon, forest resources are now co-managed by the Yukon Government and individual First Nations. This interest in planning has coincided with a growing public awareness of climate change in the Yukon. The Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) is a major advocate for action on climate change in the Yukon and in national and international arenas. The CYFN, along with partnership-based organizations such as the Northern Climate Exchange and the Energy Solutions Centre, have delivered climate change public education and outreach programs in the Yukon. In addition, the Government of Yukon released a climate change strategy in 2006 and is currently developing an action plan.

In this paper, the Strategic Forest Management Plans for two traditional territories in the Yukon—the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory in southwest Yukon (CATT), and the Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territory in south-central Yukon (TTTT; Fig. 1)—are assessed to determine how the plans have incorporated climate change into land management recommendations following the framework developed by Ogden and Innes (2007a). The plans are then compared and contrasted with respect to how they have incorporated climate change considerations. A typology to characterize how strategic forest management plans may address climate change is also suggested. This is related back to sustainable forest management planning in the Yukon.
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Fig. 1

The CATT and TTTT forest management planning areas

2 Climate change adaptation and sustainable forest management

The 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report concluded that sustainable development can reduce vulnerability to climate change and climate change can impede the ability to achieve sustainable development pathways (Yohe et al. 2007). In addition, efforts to cope with the impacts of climate change and attempts to promote sustainable development share common goals and determinants (Yohe et al. 2007). Adaptation measures are seldom undertaken in response to climate change alone; they are more often embedded within broader sectoral initiatives (Adger et al. 2007). Therefore, it is very likely that significant synergies can be exploited in bringing climate change to the development community and critical development issues to the climate change community (Yohe et al. 2007). These synergies can and should be applied to planning for sustainable forest management. Nanjam et al. (2003) discuss ideas on integrating climate change adaptation into planning and development decisions and in particular, they place an emphasis on the value of participatory processes. However, to date few discussions about promoting sustainability have explicitly included adapting to climate impacts, reducing vulnerabilities and/or promoting adaptive capacity (Yohe et al. 2007).

Canada and eleven other countries collaborated to identify seven criteria for the sustainable management of boreal and temperate forests outside Europe known as the Montréal Process1 (Montréal Process Working Group 1999). Climate change adds major uncertainty to basic assumptions about future forest condition, growth, and uses that are critical to making decisions on policies and practices to achieve these goals of sustainable forest management; how climate change may alter these factors is not fully understood (Juday et al. 2005). While the influence of climate change on boreal forest ecosystems poses new questions for the achievement of sustainable forest management, the existing principles and practice of sustainable forest management embody many of the activities that will be required to respond to the effects of climate change on forests (Spittlehouse and Stewart 2003). In a recent survey, the perspectives of forest practitioners in the Yukon and Northwest Territories were sought on whether the criteria of sustainable forest management outlined by the Montréal Process could also serve as management objectives for climate adaptation in the forest sector. Of those responding, 71% fully agreed, 12% agreed with some but not all of the criteria and 9% were unsure (Ogden and Innes 2007b). This indicates that the goal of climate change adaptation is to facilitate the achievement of sustainable forest management; therefore, Montreal Process criteria provide a suitable framework against which adaptation options can be evaluated (Ogden and Innes 2007a).

Integrating climate change adaptation considerations into existing decision-making processes is termed ‘mainstreaming’ and can lead to “win–win” policies—those that reduce vulnerability to climatic change while simultaneously addressing other priorities (Ford et al. 2006). A framework that describes how climate adaptation considerations can be incorporated into sustainable forest management plans in the boreal forest has been proposed (Ogden and Innes 2007a). This framework summarizes the potential impacts of climate change on the ability of forest managers to achieve the goals of sustainable forest management as defined by the Montréal Process. For each impact, alternative adaptation options at both the strategic and the operational planning levels are identified. The authors identified over 80 alternative adaptation measures from a review of the literature. This framework is presented in Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. An assessment of which of these management practices are currently being practiced may bring to perspective the costs and benefits of any additional adaptation measures (Ohlson et al. 2005).

In a post-land claims northern context, a logical starting point for climate change adaptation is to ensure that sustainable forest management plans reflect community goals and aspirations, that goals and objectives are achievable in light of climate change, and that sustainable forest management plans incorporate the necessary measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change to ensure management objectives are realized. Because of the irreducible uncertainties associated with climate change, it is prudent to identify and implement management practices and policies that have a higher likelihood of achieving management objectives across a wide range of potential climate futures (Ogden and Innes 2007b). However, the actual management adaptations put in place to achieve forest management objectives may differ from place to place as the impacts of climate change on growth and productivity, changing disturbance regimes, and species migrations, among other changes, will vary or because management goals and objectives differ (Ogden and Innes 2007a). Therefore, it is important to assess the applicability of various adaptation options at a regional scale.

Once adaptation measures are selected for a particular forest management area, it is critical that their performance be monitored after they are implemented. Monitoring the success of these options in achieving management objectives within an adaptive management context is essential because of the uncertainties posed by climate change. Where monitoring programs indicate that management objectives are not being met, additional adjustments to management practices may be considered or expectations (e.g., the management objectives themselves) revisited. It is highly unlikely that all management objectives will be able to be reached in all cases by adjusting forest management policies and practices. Climate change will most likely result in certain thresholds being exceeded that, regardless of the intensity of management efforts, will prohibit the ability to achieve certain objectives. In southwest Yukon, an example of such a threshold being exceeded is the shift of the spruce bark beetle outbreak from a stand to a landscape scale.

3 Assessment of sustainable forest management plans in the CATT and TTTT for climate change adaptations

Sustainable forest management planning in the Yukon follows four distinct planning stages that gradually narrow the decisions and direction from the general goals through basic landscape level arrangements down to specific harvest block location and design (Table 1). Here, the higher-level forest management plans for the Champagne and Aishihik and the Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories in southwest and south-central Yukon (Fig. 1) are assessed to determine how the plans have incorporated climate change into land management recommendations. First, the actions that are in these plans that contribute to reducing vulnerability to climate change are identified using the framework developed by Ogden and Innes (2007a). In Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 we have indicated which of these measures are incorporated into the Strategic Forest Management Plans or other relevant plans and policy documents that guide forest management planning in these regions. The CATT and TTTT plans are then compared and contrasted to provide insights into how two forest management planning processes in the Yukon have addressed climate change. An approach to identifying additional adaptations that may be necessary to enable forest management objectives to be achieved in light of climate change is also suggested.
Table 1

The sustainable forest management planning process in the Yukon

Planning level

Key planning outcomes

Strategic Forest Management Plan

Statement of what issues, concerns, values and interests must be addressed in subsequent planning stages

Forest management directions based on a general consensus between governments and people within the traditional territory

Establishes the public benchmarks against which regional forest management and planning should be evaluated

Recommended by the local Renewable Resource Council for approval by Yukon and First Nations governments

Plan is relevant for 20 years and has a planning horizon of two forest rotations (200–300 years)

Integrated Landscape Plan

Identifies broad areas available or not for forest harvesting

Provides strategies for reducing or eliminating significant negative effects of forest harvesting on other resources and values

Accompanied by a timber supply analysis followed by a determination of the harvest level for the planning region

Plan is relevant for a 5–20 year period

Timber Harvest Project

Designs harvest activities (e.g., location of blocks and main roads)

Consistent with direction from higher level plans (SFMP and ILP)

Plan generally applies for a period of 5 years

Site plan

Provides detail of the harvest block boundaries and landings, refined volume estimates and exact road locations

Describes specific operational activities including harvesting equipment, stream crossing methods etc.

Generally prepared and applied annually

Source: Government of Yukon 2007b

Table 2

Incorporation of climate change adaptations for conserving biological diversity in northern forest ecosystems in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Alteration of plant and animal distribution

Minimize fragmentation of habitat and maintain connectivity

SFMP Goal A Objective 4; ILP Section 3.5; THPOG Section 3

SFMP Section 7.2.4; THPOG Section 3

Maintain representative forest types across environmental gradients in reserves

ILP Section 3.5

SFMP Goal A Objective 1.1

Protect primary forests (in the boreal forest, these are defined as a forest largely undisturbed by human activities)

X

X

Protect climate refugia at multiple scales

X

X

Identify and protect functional groups and keystone species

SFMP Goal A Objective 3; ILP Section 3.5; THPOG Section 3

SFMP Goal A Objective 1.2; THPOG Section 3

Provide buffer zones for adjustment of reserve boundaries

X

X

Protect most highly threatened species ex situ

X

X

Develop a gene management program to maintain diverse gene pools

X

SFMP Goal A Objective 1.3

Create artificial reserves or arboreta to preserve rare species

X

X

Practice low intensity forestry and prevent conversion to plantations

SFMP Goal B Objective 3; ILP Section 2.7.1

SFMP Section 7.2.3

Assist changes in the distribution of species by introducing them to new areas

YFWMB Bison Management Plan

X

Increased frequency and severity of forest disturbance

Maintain natural fire regimes

Territory-wide fire suppression zonation policy

Allow forests to regenerate naturally following disturbance; prefer natural regeneration wherever appropriate

ILP Section 3.2; THPOG Section 3

THPOG Section 3

Habitat invasions by non-native species

Establish program to monitor invasive species that may become more prevalent under a changing climate and take steps to control their establishment

Territory-wide invasive species committee

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

Table 3

Incorporation of climate change adaptations for maintaining the productive capacity of northern forest ecosystems in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Increased frequency and severity of forest disturbance

Allocate forest landbase using a TRIAD approach to landscape zonation to identify areas that may be managed for timber production where high intensity forestry may be practiced

SFMP Goal B Objective 3; ILP Section 2.7.1

SFMP Section 7.2.3

Assist in tree regeneration

ILP Section 3.2; THPOG Section 3

THPOG Section 3

Apply silvicultural techniques that maintain a diversity of age stands and mix of species

ILP Section 3.2; THPOG Section 3

SFMP Section 7.2.1; THPOG Section 3

Actively manage forest pests

X

X

Decreased forest growth

Adapt silviclutural rules and practices to ensure the growth rates of trees are maintained or enhanced

X

X

Include climate variables in growth and yield models in order to have more specific predictions on future development of forests

X

X

Practice high intensity forestry in areas managed for timber production to promote growth of commercial tree species

SFMP Goal B Objective 3; ILP Section 2.7.1

SFMP Section 7.2.3

Include climate variables in growth and yield models in order to have more specific predictions on the future development of forests

X

X

Enhance forest growth through forest fertilization

X

X

Employ vegetation control techniques to offset drought

X

X

Pre-commercial thinning or selectively remove suppressed, damaged or poor quality individuals to increase resource availability to the remaining trees

X

X

Plant genetically modified species and identify more suitable genotypes

X

X

Species are no longer suited to site conditions

Adapt silviclutural rules and practices to maintain optimum species-site relationships

X

X

Underplant with other species or genotypes where the current advanced regeneration is unacceptable as a source for the future forest

X

X

Design and establish a long-term multi-species/seedlot trial to test improved genotypes across a diverse array of climatic and latitudinal environments

X

X

Reduce the rotation age followed by planting to speed the establishment of better adapted forest types

X

X

Relax rules governing the movement of seed stocks from one area to another; examine options for modifying seed transfer limits and systems

X

X

Invasions by non-native species

Control those undesirable plant species that will become more competitive in a changed climate

X

X

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

Table 4

Incorporation of climate change adaptations for maintaining the health and vitality of northern forest ecosystems in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Increased frequency and severity of insect and disease disturbance

Adjust harvest schedules to harvest stands most vulnerable to insect outbreaks

SFMP Section 6.1.1; ILP Section 3.1; THPOG Section 3

THPOG Section 3

Plant genotypes that are tolerant of drought, insects and/ or disease

X

X

Reduce disease losses through sanitation cuts that remove infected trees

X

X

Breed for pest resistance and for a wider tolerance to a range of climate stresses and extremes in specific genotypes

X

X

Used prescribed burning to reduce fire risk and reduce forest vulnerability to insect outbreaks

X

X

Employ silvicultural techniques to promote forest productivity and increase stand vigour (i.e. partial cutting or thinning) to lower the susceptibility to insect attack

ILP Section 3.4.2

X

Shorten the rotation length to decrease the period of stand vulnerability to damaging insects and diseases and to facilitate change to more suitable species

X

X

Decreased health and vitality of forest ecosystems due to cumulative impacts of multiple stressors

Reduce non-climatic stresses to enhance ability of ecosystems to respond to climate change by managing tourism, recreation and grazing impacts

X

X

Reduce non-climatic stresses to enhance ability of ecosystems to respond to climate change by regulating atmospheric pollutants

X

X

Reduce non-climatic stresses to enhance ability of ecosystems to respond to climate change by restoring degraded areas to maintain genetic diversity and promote ecosystem health

X

X

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

Table 5

Incorporation of climate change adaptations for conserving and maintaining the soil and water resources in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Increased soil erosion due to increased precipitation and melting of permafrost

Adopt practices that minimize the risk of sediment generation activities associated with roads and harvesting activities

SFMP Section 6.2; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Section 7.9; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Maintain, decommission and rehabilitate roads to minimize sediment runoff due to increased precipitation and melting of permafrost

SFMP Section 6.2; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Section 7.9; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Minimize soil disturbance through low impact harvesting activities

SFMP Goal A Objective 6; ILP Section 3.1; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Goal C Objective 3.1; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Minimize density of permanent road network to maximize productive forest area

SFMP Section 6.2; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Section 7.9; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Limit harvesting operations to the winter to minimize road construction and soil disturbance

SFMP Section 6.2; ILP Section 3.1; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Goal C Objective 3.1; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Increased terrain instability due to extreme precipitation events or melting of permafrost

Avoid constructing roads in landslide prone terrain where increased precipitation and melting of permafrost may increase hazard of slope failure.

SFMP Section 6.2; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Goal C Objective 3.1; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

More/earlier snow melt resulting in changes in the timing of peak flow and volume in streams

Examine the suitability of current road construction and stream crossing standards to ensure they adequately mitigate the potential impacts on infrastructure, fish, and potable water of changes in timing and volume of peak flows

X

X

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

Table 6

Incorporation of climate change adaptations for maintaining northern forest contributions to global carbon cycles in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Decrease in forest sinks and increased CO2 emissions from northern forested ecosystems due to declining forest growth and productivity

Minimize risk of the forest ecosystem becoming a net source of carbon

X

X

Enhance forest growth and carbon sequestration through forest fertilization

X

X

Modify thinning practices (timing, intensity) and rotation length to increase growth and turnover of carbon

X

X

Decommission and rehabilitate roads to maximize forest sinks

SFMP Section 6.2; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Section 7.9; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Minimize density of permanent road network to maximize productive forest area

SFMP Section 6.2; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Section 7.9; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Modify rotation length to increase the turnover of carbon

X

X

Decrease in forest sinks and increased CO2 emissions from northern forested ecosystems due to increased frequency and severity of forest disturbance

Identify forest areas that can be managed to enhance carbon uptake

X

X

Identify areas that may be suitable for afforestation

X

X

Identify areas where forests have been degraded and can be rehabilitated

X

X

Mitigate climate change through forest carbon management

X

X

Increase forested area through afforestation

X

X

Reduce forest degradation and avoid deforestation

SFMP Goal A Objective 6

SFMP Goal B Objective 2.1

Decrease impact of natural disturbances on carbon stocks by managing fire and forest pests

X

X

Minimize soil disturbance through low impact harvesting activities

SFMP Goal A Objective 6; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

SFMP Goal C Objective 3.1; THPOG Sections 3 and 4

Enhance forest recovery after disturbance

X

X

Increase the use of forests for biomass energy

X

X

Practice low intensity forestry and prevent conversion to plantations

SFMP Goal B Objective 3; ILP Section 2.7.1

SFMP Section 7.2.3

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

Table 7

Incorporation of climate change adaptations for maintaining and enhancing long-term multiple socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Decreased socio-economic resilience

Anticipate variability and change and conduct vulnerability assessments at a regional scale

Ogden and Innes 2007c and d are examples of government supported research

X

Establish objectives for the future forest under climate change

X

X

Enhance capacity to undertake integrated assessments of system vulnerabilities at various scales

X

X

Foster learning and innovation and conduct research to determine when and where to implement adaptive responses

SFMP Goal A Objectives 7, 8, 9

SFMP Section 8.4

Diversify forest economy (e.g., explore dead wood product markets, value added products)

Encouraged in request for proposal for forest industry development

SFMP Goal D Objective 4.1

Diversify regional economy (non forest based)

SFMP Goal B Objectives 7, 8, 9, 10

SFMP Goal D Objective 4.2

Review forest policies, forest planning, forest management approaches and institutions to assess our ability to achieve social objectives under climate change; encourage societal adaptation (e.g., forest policies to encourage adaptation, revision of conservation objectives, changes in expectations)

Ogden and Innes 2007c and d are examples of government supported research

X

Develop technology to use altered wood quality and tree species composition, modify wood processing technology

X

X

Make choice about the preferred tree species composition for the future

X

X

Enhance dialogue amongst stakeholder groups to establish priorities for action on climate adaptation in the forest sector

X

X

Increased frequency and severity of forest disturbance

Include risk management in management rules and forest plans and develop an enhanced capacity for risk management

X

X

Conduct an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions produced by internal operations

X

X

Increase awareness about the potential impact of climate change on the fire regime and encourage proactive actions in regard to fuels management and community protection

SFMP Section 6.1.2; ILP Section 3.4

X

Protect higher value areas from fire through firesmart techniques

SFMP Section 6.1.2; ILP Section 3.4; Yukon FireSmart Program

Yukon FireSmart Program

Increase amount of timber from salvage logging of fire or insect disturbed stands

SFMP Section 6.1.1; ILP Section 3.1; THPOG Section 3

THPOG Section 3

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

Table 8

Incorporation of climate change adaptations that may be considered to ensure the appropriate legal, institutional and economic framework is in place for forest conservation and sustainable management in the Strategic Forest Management Plans for the Champagne Aishihik and Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territories, Yukon

Climate change impact

Adaptation optiona

CATT

TTTT

Forest management plans and policies lack the flexibility that is required to develop, discuss and implement adaptive responses

Development of flexible forest management plans and policies that are capable of responding to climate change.

SFMP Goal A Objective 9

SFMP Section 8.4

Provide long-term tenures to encourage long-term considerations within short term decisions

X

X

Relax rules governing the movement of seed stocks from one area to another

X

X

Measure, monitor and report on indicators of climate change and sustainable forest management to determine the state of the forest and identify when critical thresholds are reached

SFMP Sections 5, 9

SFMP Sections 5, 8

Evaluate the adequacy of existing environmental and biological monitoring networks for tracking the impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems, identify inadequacies and gaps in these networks and identify options to address them

X

X

Practice adaptive management. Adaptive management rigorously combines management, research, monitoring, and means of changing practices so that credible information is gained and management activities are modified by experience

SFMP Goal A Objective 9

SFMP Section 8.4

Forest management plans and policies enhance the vulnerability of forests and forest dependent communities to climate change

Support research on climate change, climate impacts, and climate adaptations and increase resources for basic climate change impacts and adaptation science

E.g. Ogden 2006 and Ogden and Innes 2007c and d are examples of government supported research

X

Support knowledge exchange, technology transfer, capacity building and information sharing on climate change; maintain or improve capacity for communications and networking

SFMP Goal D; Ogden 2006; Ogden et al. 2007c and d and McKinnon 2006 are examples of government supported information sharing projects

SFMP Goal E

Incorporate new knowledge about the future climate and forest vulnerability into forest management plans and policies

X

X

Involve the public in an assessment of forest management adaptation options

X

X

Forest management policies do not provide incentives to develop responses to climate change

Remove barriers and develop incentives to adapt to climate change.

X

X

Provide incentives and remove barriers to enhancing carbon sinks and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

X

X

Provide opportunities for forest management activities to be included in carbon trading systems (as outlined in Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol)

X

X

aSource: The framework to assess adaptation options that is applied here is from Ogden and Innes (2007a). Acronyms: SFMP refers to Strategic Forest Management Plan (ARRC 2004 and TRRC 2007). ILP refers to the Integrated Landscape Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government 2007). THPOG refers to the Yukon Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook (Government of Yukon 1999).

3.1 CATT

Since the late 1980s or early 1990s, a major, climatically driven spruce bark beetle infestation has been affecting the forests in the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation that has caused widespread mortality of white spruce (Picea glauca), the only conifer in the region. The 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment called the infestation the largest and most intense outbreak of spruce bark beetle ever to affect Canadian trees, and a notable example of ecosystem response to recent warming. The characteristics of the forest in this region (which is predominantly mature white spruce) along with a moisture-limited climate (the area is in the rainshadow of the St. Elias Range) enhanced the vulnerability of these ecosystems to large-scale beetle attack. A series of warmer winters and warmer and drier summers resulted in (1) drought stress that reduced the ability of white spruce to reduce insect attack, and (2) completion of the beetle life cycle in one year and enhanced over-winter survival, which built up the beetle populations to epidemic levels (Juday et al. 2005). The infestation was first recorded in 1993 when it was 30,000 ha in size (Garbutt 1998). By 1998, the infestation was 90,000 ha in size. By 2005, the infestation had reached over 380,000 ha in size (Garbutt 2006). The ACIA attributed the severity, intensity and magnitude of the infestation to changing climate. As a result of the spruce bark beetle infestation, there is widespread mortality of white spruce. The abundance of dead white spruce trees has increased the quantity, flammability and extent of forest fuels, fire hazard and the risk of catastrophic loss of property (Garbutt et al. 2007). The elevated fire hazard will remain for many years because of the slow progress of decay in the dry, cold climate of this region (Garbutt et al. 2007). The widespread mortality of white spruce trees has also reduced the economic opportunities from the forest for timber, affected the visual quality of landscapes, reduced the value of the forest for recreation and tourism and has resulted in significant changes to the regional ecology (ARRC 2004).

3.1.1 The CATT SFMP and ILP

The Strategic Forest Management Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (CATT SFMP) was approved in December 2004 (ARRC 2004). The planning process was initiated in 1998 in response to the spruce beetle infestation. Events leading to the development of the SFMP are outlined in Fig. 2. The CATT SFMP outlines strategic directions and guiding principles for sustainable forest management in the CATT. It provides the direction and steps that are necessary to implement a balanced approach to the development of the region’s forest resources, as defined by local people. The plan identifies reduction of fire hazard, community and economic benefits from forestry, preservation of wildlife habitat, and renewal of beetle-killed forests as priority issues and stresses the need for an integrated approach to forest management and planning. It does so by establishing basic goals and objectives for forest management2 and identifying a series of indicators to determine if management activities are proceeding according to plan. The SFMP subdivides the planning region into 18 forest planning areas that are loosely based on watershed boundaries. Based on local and traditional knowledge and community input, each of these forest planning areas was assigned a priority (low, medium or high) for development planning purposes. The SFMP also establishes processes for plan implementation and plan monitoring and review, and incorporates an adaptive management framework.
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Fig. 2

Events leading to the development of the Strategic Forest Management Plan for the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory, southwest Yukon. Source: Ogden 2006

A plan that is intermediary between strategic and operational plans, an Integrated Landscape Plan (ILP), has also been finalized for the CATT (Government of Yukon and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations 2007). The ILP identifies three landscape zones and priorities and general strategies for management in each of these zones along with guidelines for the development and implementation of Timber Harvest Project (THP) planning and the associated forestry operations. Following the release of the ILP, a request for proposal to salvage 1,000,000 m3 of beetle-killed wood was issued. As of February 2008 when this paper was written, no THPs or site plans have been finalized under the SFMP nor has any harvesting taken place; however, THP planning is underway.

3.1.2 Assessment of CATT SFMP and ILP for climate change adaptations

The SFMP acknowledges the role that climate change has played in the spruce bark beetle infestation, and notes that if the region’s climate continues to become warmer and drier, increasing moisture stress and increased beetle populations could lead to increased attack and mortality of smaller size classes of trees. The plan acknowledges that a major factor contributing to the current beetle infestation is the relatively even-aged, mature white spruce stands that dominate the landscape in the area. While the SFMP acknowledges climate change as a driver of ecosystem change in the region, the forest management planning process did not directly take climate change considerations into account in recommending management practices and policies to reduce vulnerability to future climate change. However, both the SFMP and ILP incorporate management practices outlined in the framework proposed by Ogden and Innes (2007a) that may reduce vulnerability to future climate change. These are summarized below and in Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Actions to conserve biological diversity in a changing climate

Biological diversity—diversity of ecosystems, the diversity between species, and genetic diversity in species—makes it possible for organisms and ecosystems to respond and adapt to environmental change (CCFM 2006). Adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of conserving biological diversity of northern forest ecosystems are presented in Table 2 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). The SFMP and associated plans incorporate a number of these measures. For example, one of four goals of the SFMP is to maintain the function and integrity of forest ecosystems by conserving forest productivity and biodiversity and related waters, soils, ecosystems and landscapes. The plan specifies nine objectives to achieve this goal that include protecting fish and wildlife populations and their habitats and ensuring appropriate wildlife movement corridors. As directed by the ILP, a landscape-scale connectivity planning exercise was carried out that applied a focal species approach (Connectivity Planning Technical Working Group 2008). The ILP also requires that harvest planning not disproportionately target particular ecosystems—no more than 50% of an ecoregion or ecodistrict may be harvested.

Actions to maintain the productive capacity of forest ecosystems in a changing climate

Sustainable forest management requires that the productive capacity of forest ecosystems—the ability of the forest to accumulate biomass—be maintained such that ecological functions and processes are able to perpetuate themselves over the long term (Montréal Process Working Group 1999). Disturbance regimes and nutrient cycling are the primary controls on productivity in the boreal forest (Gitay et al. 2001), therefore, even small climatically driven changes in temperature and precipitation could greatly affect future forest growth and survival particularly at ecotones and threshold areas. Adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of maintaining the productive capacity of northern forest are summarized in Table 3 (Ogden and Innes 2007a); several of these measures are incorporated into the SFMP and associated plans. While the primary purpose of the ILP was to zone the landbase to identify areas where salvage harvesting may take place, and areas where either fuel abatement or conservation is the management priority; the plan does not fully embrace a suggested adaptive response to declining productivity which is to practice high intensity forestry in areas managed for timber production. While ILP provides silvicultural guidelines that emphasize natural regeneration as the preferred method; it also provides direction to assist in tree regeneration where natural regeneration is unsuccessful. The SFMP provides direction to create forests more resilient to disturbances by promoting a mosaic of species across the landscape using an ecologically and socially appropriate design and the ILP also requires that harvest planning not disproportionately target more productive sites.

Actions to maintain forest ecosystem health and vitality in a changing climate

Forest ecosystem health and vitality must be maintained in order for sustainable forest management to be achieved. Natural disturbances are a critical part of the functioning of healthy boreal forest ecosystems and some of these disturbances, such as wildfires, play a key role in allowing forests to renew themselves and maintain their health and productivity (CCFM 2006). Humans have contributed to an intensity, rate, and scale of forest disturbances that are outside the natural range of variation. The cumulative impact of natural and human disturbances such as harvesting, agricultural development, pollution, and climate change may exceed what forest ecosystems are adapted to. Adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of maintaining forest ecosystem health and vitality are summarized in Table 4 (Ogden and Innes 2007a); a few of these measures are incorporated into the SFMP and associated plans. The SFMP provides direction for salvage-based harvesting activities and provides guidance that creating the necessary conditions to achieve sustained yield forest management is an “important work-in-progress”, indicating that a long-term sustainable supply of timber is not the focus of the plan nor would this be attainable in the near future because of the widespread mortality of spruce. The SFMP provides direction that a carefully considered, soundly planned and action-oriented approach to forest renewal is required, one that creates forests more resilient to disturbances by promoting a mosaic of species across the landscape using an ecologically and socially appropriate design. The SFMP and ILP also provide silvicultural guidelines for harvested areas that specify that most areas should be established to a free-growing state within 15 years; however, it indicates that in special areas it may be considered desirable to allow for a longer “green-up” period for wildlife habitat management purposes or other reasons.

Actions to conserve and maintain soil and water resources in a changing climate

Forest management activities modify forest soils through disturbance, erosion, compaction and the removal of the forest canopy and can increase soil erosion, stream siltation, water temperatures, and the flow of water out of a watershed by reducing interception and transpiration losses. Major impacts of climate change that are expected in the boreal forest include the melting of the permafrost, increased frequency and severity of forest fires, and changes to precipitation and evapotranspiration regimes. There are likely to be major interactions between climate change and forest harvesting on soil and water resources, although the nature of these interactions is difficult to anticipate. However, the use of appropriate management techniques can minimize the combined impacts of forest harvesting and climate change on soil and water resources. Adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of conserving and maintaining the soil and water resources in northern forest ecosystems are summarized in Table 5 and include minimizing the density of the permanent road network, avoiding landslide prone terrain and winter harvesting (Ogden and Innes 2007a). Nearly all of these options are addressed by the CATT SFMP and associated plans.

Actions to maintain forest contribution to global carbon cycles in a changing climate

Forest management activities can have substantial impacts on the role of forests in the carbon cycle since carbon stored in forests can be easily transferred to the atmosphere through human (or natural) disturbances (CCFM 2006). Even where forest managers are working within a forest management area where carbon removals by harvesting and sinks from tree growth are in balance, carbon storage can decrease for two reasons: (1) disturbances will shift the age class structure towards younger forests, or (2) the continued aging in the absence of disturbance resulting in older forests characterized by slower growth rates and less potential to sequester carbon (Apps and Marsden 2000). Forest operations also generate greenhouse gas emissions by the energy that is consumed in harvesting, transporting, and converting timber into products. Adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of maintaining northern forest contributions to global carbon cycles are summarized in Table 6 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). These options address changes in the carbon balance due to declining forest growth and productivity or due to increased frequency and severity of forest disturbance. The CATT SFMP and associated plans incorporate several of these measures including minimizing soil disturbance through low-impact harvesting activities, minimizing road density and avoiding deforestation.

Actions to maintain and enhance long-term socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies in a changing climate

The impact of climate change on the ability to sustain the flow of social and economic goods and services over the long term from forest ecosystems will depend on five factors: (1) the rate and magnitude of climate change; (2) the response of forest ecosystems to climate change; (3) the sensitivity of communities to the impacts of climate change and to the policies introduced to address climate change; (4) the economic characteristics of the affected communities; and (5) the adaptive capacity of the affected group (van Kooten 1995; Hauer et al. 1999). Adaptation options that may be considered to address decreased socio-economic resilience, increased rates of forest disturbance or the ability to maintain and enhance long term multiple socioeconomic benefits are summarized in Table 7 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). The CATT SFMP and associated plans incorporate several of these measures including diversifying the economy, increasing salvage harvesting of insect-disturbed stands as well as actions that fall under the adaptive management framework of the SFMP including fostering learning and innovation and supporting research. It also places priority on fuel treatments as a risk reduction strategy and provides strategic directions to take proactive actions with regards to fuels management to protect communities and to increasing public awareness of wildfire risk. The development of fuel abatement plans for communities within the CATT is currently underway.

Actions to ensure the appropriate legal, institutional and economic framework is in place for forest conservation and sustainable management in a changing climate

Legal, institutional and economic frameworks facilitate the sustainable management of forests. In some circumstances, the legal, institutional and economic framework for forest management may no longer be relevant in the context of climate change. Policies may lack the flexibility that is required to develop, discuss and implement adaptive responses, or their static nature may actually enhance the vulnerability of forests and forest dependent communities to climate change. Furthermore, policies may not provide the incentives necessary to engage forest managers in developing adequate responses to climate change. Table 8 summarizes climate change adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of ensuring the appropriate legal, institutional and economic framework is in place for forest conservation and sustainable management (Ogden and Innes 2007a). The CATT SFMP and associated plans incorporate several of these measures. Most importantly, the strategic plan (1) identifies goals associated with cooperative forest management and planning and building local capacity, these provide the vehicle and forum to make management decisions that are adaptive and effective in the face of climate change and (2) incorporates an adaptive management framework.

Critical forest management policies to reduce vulnerability of forests and forest dependent communities to climate change include (1) supporting research, monitoring and knowledge exchange on climate change, climate impacts and climate adaptations and (2) practicing adaptive management so that management activities are modified by experience. Currently, an Initial Status Report on local indicators of sustainable forest management is in preparation. A survey to gather local knowledge and perceptions on the indicators was undertaken, and the findings are being incorporated into the status report. This report will provide the baseline information that future monitoring and reporting of indicators can be compared against. In addition, a pilot effectiveness monitoring program has been developed and field-tested to assess how well fuel abatement activities are achieving plan objectives. The unique challenges faced by this region recently attracted the attention of the Canadian Model Forest Program, which has designated the region as a Special Project Area. This designation secured funding for CAFN to do additional research on issues of community sustainability in the region in the face of climate change and on incorporating traditional and local knowledge into the adaptive management framework. The CAFN and Yukon governments are also supporting climate change adaptation research. The project Forest Management in a Changing Climate: Building the Environmental Information Base in Southwest Yukon synthesized existing information on climate impacts and adaptation responses (Ogden 2007). This project produced five technical reports and an overview report which are posted on the project website3. In March 2006, a community workshop on climate change was held, one day of which was devoted to discussions on Our Changing Boreal Forest. Workshop participants were given the opportunity to share observations of climate change and to identify research and monitoring needs (McKinnon 2006). Soon after this workshop, 30 forest practitioners involved with the implementation of this plan were involved in a research project where current and future climate change vulnerabilities were assessed and an extensive list of alternative forest management adaptation options were evaluated, including those summarized in Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and the applicability of alternative forest renewal adaptation strategies were assessed according to the different landscape zones in the CATT (Ogden and Innes 2007c and d).

3.2 TTTT

The Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territory is located in south-central Yukon. Forest management planning was initiated to help resolve the local tensions related to forest harvesting in this region, where forestry activities have generated both strong local support and opposition (TRRC 2007). The lack of regional forest management plans, considered to be essential to resolving these sorts of issues, has been recognized as both a need and a challenge across the Yukon for some time (Tough 2002). The planning process was initiated in 1998. In 2000, Teslin area residents were surveyed and a preference for controlled and small-scale operations emerged (Government of Yukon 2000).

3.2.1 The TTTT SFMP

The Strategic Forest Management Plan for the Teslin Tlingit Traditional Territory (TTTT SFMP) was approved in January, 2007 (TRRC 2007). The TTTT SFMP provides a sustainable development strategy for the forests of the TTTT. It establishes what issues and concerns, values and interests must be addressed as forest resource development moves forward in the region. It reflects the values and views of the region’s residents, the Teslin Tlingit Council, the Teslin Renewable Resources Council, the Yukon Government as well as those of stakeholders and other Yukon non-governmental organizations. The plan defines sustainable forest management goals, objectives and indicators that parallel Montreal Process criteria for sustainable forest management.4

The plan outlines strategic directions from planning and legislative initiatives that have a bearing on sustainable forest management planning in the region. It also provides strategic directions for key issues, including diversifying the local economy, coarse-filter approaches to the management of biodiversity, management of wildlife and wildlife habitat for species of concern, visual quality management, management of heritage and archaeological sites, uncommon vegetation types, reducing conflict between different forms of land use, forest resource management near to the community of Teslin, access management, and salvage of timber associated with land clearing for linear and other disturbances. Climate change is not noted as a possible driver of change for any of these issues.

The TTTT SFMP identifies three categories of strategic forest land-use zones. These zones are further subdivided into regional forest use designations. The plan identifies 15 landscape units in the planning region. The Teslin community ranked each individual landscape unit for what was perceived to be an acceptable level of forest activity/development within the unit. Public consultations also identified key concerns for each landscape unit. Based on community activity, each of these forest planning areas was assigned a priority (low, medium or high) for planning purposes.

3.2.2 Assessment of TTTT SFMP for climate change adaptations

There is only one reference in the plan to climate change. In the introductory description of the planning region, the plan notes “at this time it is unclear how climate change will affect forests in Teslin or Yukon” and notes that “across Canada it is thought that boreal forest species may shift northward 300 to 500 km and that portions of the boreal forest may be replaced by a temperate forest characteristic of southern Ontario or northern United States”. While it is encouraging to see a reference in the plan to climate change, it is unfortunate that this quote does not fully reflect our current understanding (e.g. Juday et al. 2005; Morgan et al. 2004; Price and Apps 1996; Schmitz et al. 2003 etc.). While boreal forest species are expected to shift northward, the latest results from scientific research on climate change-driven shifts in vegetation does not point to Yukon forests being replaced by forests that are currently characteristic of southern Ontario (over 5,500 km away) or northern USA (over 3,500 km away). Rather, climate change is expected to shift the treeline northward and upwards, cause reduced rates of tree growth in some species and at some sites and increase growth rates in others, cause larger and more extensive fire and insect outbreaks (ACIA 2004). Although precipitation is projected to increase, so too are the rates of evapotranspiration; some areas in the boreal forest will become too dry to support closed canopy forest and are projected to convert to a more open aspen woodland (ACIA 2004). While the forest management planning process for the TTTT did not directly take climate change considerations into account in recommending management practices and policies to reduce vulnerability to future climate change, the SFMP does incorporate a number of management practices outlined in the framework proposed by Ogden and Innes (2007a) that are consistent with management actions to adapt to climate change. These are summarized below and in Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Actions to conserve biological diversity in a changing climate

The TTTT SFMP incorporates a number of measures to conserve biological diversity that can reduce vulnerability to climate change as presented in Table 2 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). One of five goals of the SFMP is to conserve biological diversity and the plan specifies three objectives to achieve this goal: conserve ecosystem diversity, conserve species diversity and conserve genetic diversity. The SFMP provides some strategic directions to manage seral stage targets for early seral and mature-old forest, and provides guidance to not disproportionately alter age classes in alluvial sites. Direction is also provided to utilize natural disturbance pattern and landscape features to manage connectivity across the landscape. The wise management of wildlife and wildlife habitats is among the most important issues in the region, and the plan provides objectives for a number focal or priority species.

Actions to maintain the productive capacity of forest ecosystems in a changing climate

The TTTT SFMP incorporates a number of adaptation measures to maintain the productive capacity of forest ecosystems as presented in Table 3 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). Most importantly, one of five goals of the SFMP is to maintain forest ecosystem health and productivity.

Actions to maintain forest ecosystem health and vitality in a changing climate

While one of five goals of the SFMP is to maintain forest ecosystem health and productivity, the SFMP does not provide any additional strategic direction that is consistent with how forest health may be maintained in a changing climate as presented in Table 4 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). However, the Yukon-wide Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Guidebook does provide direction to adjust harvest schedules to harvest stands that are more vulnerable to insect outbreaks (Government of Yukon 1999).

Actions to conserve and maintain soil and water resources in a changing climate

Adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of conserving and maintaining the soil and water resources in northern forest ecosystems in a changing climate are summarized in Table 5 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). Nearly all of these options are addressed by the TTTT SFMP and associated plans.

Actions to maintain forest contribution to global carbon cycles in a changing climate

Table 6 summarizes adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of maintaining northern forest contributions to global carbon cycles (Ogden and Innes 2007a). A goal of the Teslin SFMP is to conserve and maintain soil and water resources and the SFMP and associated plans incorporate several of these measures including minimizing soil disturbance through low-impact harvesting activities, minimizing road density and avoiding deforestation.

Actions to maintain and enhance of long-term socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies in a changing climate

Table 7 summarizes adaptation options that may be considered to address decreased socio-economic resilience and increased rates of forest disturbance on the ability to maintain and enhance long term multiple socioeconomic benefits associated with climate change (Ogden and Innes 2007a). The TTTT SFMP and associated plans incorporate several of these measures including diversifying the economy, increasing salvage harvesting of insect-disturbed forests as well as actions that fall under the adaptive management framework of the SFMP, including fostering learning and innovation and supporting research.

Actions to ensure the appropriate legal, institutional and economic framework is in place for forest conservation and sustainable management in a changing climate

Climate change adaptation options that may be considered to achieve the management objective of ensuring the appropriate legal, institutional and economic framework is in place for forest conservation and sustainable management are summarized in Table 8 (Ogden and Innes 2007a). The TTTT SFMP and associated plans incorporate several of these measures. Most importantly, the strategic plan incorporates an adaptive management framework, a critical flexibility mechanism that ensures plans and policies are capable of adapting and responding to climate change or other drivers of change. The plan notes that forest ecosystems are complex and dynamic, and recognizes that the ability to predict how they will respond to management actions is limited. It identifies that this is particularly true in southern Yukon, where forest harvesting activities and ecosystem response research have been fairly limited, and that knowledge gaps and uncertainties exist on how to best manage the forests of the region. The adaptive management strategy outlined in the plan involves identifying measurable objectives and indicators, forecasting responses to management actions, monitoring indicators that are used to test forecasts, evaluating and comparing forecasts to measured responses, and adjusting management actions as appropriate. The adaptive management strategy draws particular attention to wildfire as the agent primarily responsible for unpredictable large land-base changes in the southern Yukon. The plan specifically states that the adaptive management strategy should include a monitoring program to assess the effects of wildfire on timber supply. It also provides strategic direction with respect to plan implementation monitoring and review. An Initial Status Report on local indicators of sustainable forest management is also in preparation; this will serve as the baseline against which future indicator reports will be compared.

3.3 Comparison of CATT and TTTT plans

Using the framework proposed by Ogden and Innes (2007a), Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 summarize which climate adaptation management tactics have or have not been incorporated into the CATT and TTTT Strategic Forest Management Plans. An understanding of the current management practices that may contribute to reducing vulnerability to climate change may help to bring into focus the incremental costs and benefits of additional adaptation strategies (Ohlson et al. 2005).

The TTTT SFMP was approved nearly three years after the CATT SFMP, so the two plans are at different stages of implementation. A primary difference between the CATT and the TTTT plan is that the TTTT plan is not salvage-harvest driven. In the CATT, a 10-year harvest level was set to capture economic value from the trees killed by spruce bark beetle before the wood becomes unusable.5 While the CATT plan provides strategic direction for forest management to create the necessary conditions to achieve sustained yield forestry through a soundly planned approach to long-term forest renewal, it focuses on providing strategic direction on salvage-based harvesting. In contrast, the intent of the TTTT plan is to provide for the long-term sustainability of the regions’ forests and the needs of future generations.

The plans are similar in their stated desire to provide community sustainability and benefits, build capacity within the region to participate in forestry activities, cooperative planning and management, and incorporate local, traditional and scientific knowledge into decision-making. The goals of both plans are also consistent with the principles of sustainable forest management, which are essential to developing responses to climate change. The goals provide the vehicle and forum to make management decisions that are adaptive in the face of climate change.

Both plans incorporate best management practices for conserving biological diversity that are also consistent with what has been suggested to be an appropriate adaptation response to address changes in plant and animal distributions that may result because of climate change (e.g., minimizing fragmentation of habitat, maintaining connectivity, identifying and protecting functional groups and keystone species). Similarly, both plans incorporate strategic direction to zone forest uses across the landscape. Zoning may involve identifying certain areas where more intensive stand management is permitted along with areas of no-harvest where other values and uses of forested land restrict forestry operations. This is also consistent with what has been suggested as an appropriate adaptation response to conserve biodiversity and maintain productive capacity in northern forested ecosystems in light of climate change (Ogden and Innes 2007a).

Only a few best management practices consistent with the adaptive responses that have been suggested as potential ways to cope with either decreased forest growth or site-species incompatibility are included in either plan. Similarly, neither plan incorporates a large number of management practices to maintain the health and vitality of forested ecosystems in the light of climate change (e.g., breeding for pest resistance, planting genotypes that are tolerant of drought, insects and/or disease, reducing disease losses through disease or sanitation cuts that remove infected trees). However, the CATT plan does provide strategic direction to promote forests that are more resilient to disturbances by promoting a mosaic of species. In addition, both place harvest priority on stands that have been disturbed by fire or insect outbreaks or those that are most vulnerable to insect outbreaks. While the establishment of a harvest priority for disturbed areas is an example of a management practice that has been suggested by researchers as a way that forest managers can adapt to increasing rates of disturbances caused by climate change, in some areas this is also a standard practice for reasons other than climate change. Climate change may now be providing more of an imperative to implement this type of practice where it is not currently being implemented.

Nearly all of the adaptation options suggested by researchers as ways to conserve and maintain soil and water resources in a changing climate are incorporated into both plans. The CATT SFMP and associated plans incorporates a greater number of best management practices/adaptation options for maintaining and enhancing long-term multiple socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies. More work to assess vulnerabilities to climate change and to increase awareness about proactive actions for landscape-scale fuels assessment and fuel abatement planning has taken place in the CATT than in the TTTT, largely in response to the spruce bark beetle infestation.

Both Strategic Forest Management Plans explicitly incorporate an adaptive management framework, considered to be an essential response to climate change (Spittlehouse and Stewart 2003). Adaptive management rigorously combines management, research, monitoring and means of changing practices so that credible information is gained and management activities are modified by experience. Adaptive management is frequently cited as a way of dealing with uncertainty. The dominant approach to adaptive management in both plans is more passive (i.e., “learning by doing”). However active adaptive management studies are being proposed for inclusion in a Timber Harvest Project currently under development in the CATT. These studies are more consistent with the science-based approach advocated by Holling (1978), Folke et al. (2002) and others. Both plans also commit to measuring, monitoring and reporting on indicators of sustainable forest management to determine the state of the forest (Spittlehouse 2005) and Initial Status Reports are currently in development for both planning areas. However, neither plan has explicitly committed to establishing thresholds nor does either plan address the management responses that would be required once thresholds are reached.

3.4 Additional adaptations?

It not necessary or appropriate for a plan to incorporate all of the adaptation options suggested in Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8—some contradict one another, and others may be contradictory to plan objectives. The management adaptations established to achieve sustainable forest management objectives may differ from place to place because the impacts of climate change on forested ecosystems differ, or because the management objectives differ. What is important is that a planning process works through a proactive, thoughtful assessment of when and where a particular adaptation option may be suitable to include in a strategic or operational plan (Ogden and Innes 2007a). As management objectives can vary by landscape zone within a planning region, it is useful to consider landscape zones when carrying out such an assessment (Ogden and Innes 2007d). A structured decision-making approach provides a useful framework for this sort of assessment. Such an approach involves the development of comprehensive objectives, an assessment of current and future vulnerabilities, the consideration of reasonable alternatives, an understanding of consequences based on available information, and the implementation and monitoring of the effectiveness of management actions. Additional information on the application of a structured decision-making approach to climate change adaptation in the forest sector can be found in Ohlson et al. (2005). This approach was recently applied in the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory, and results may be found in Ogden (2007c and d).

4 Description and application of a typology to categorize sustainable forest management plans according to how they address climate change

In the following section we suggest a typology to categorize sustainable forest management plans according to how they address climate change. We also apply this typology to the CATT and TTTT plans. While this typology is applied here to forest management plans developed for two areas in the southern Yukon, the basic framework has much wider application, as forest management plans aimed at maintaining forest sustainability have quite similar structures the world over.

4.1 Description of typology

Adaptation to climate change can be carried out in response to or in anticipation of the changes. A proactive response involves acting before a situation becomes a crisis. A proactive plan identifies actions that will be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks in anticipation of change. Conversely, a reactive response involves waiting for something to happen before any action is taken. A reactive plan identifies actions that will be taken in response to a specific change after that change has taken place, and may or may not acknowledge what has driven the change. For example, a reactive sustainable forest management plan may be developed for a salvage harvesting operation following a disturbance event that may be of a magnitude, severity or intensity beyond what is normally managed for. Proactive approaches to adaptation are generally preferred as they are more likely to avoid or reduce damage (Easterling et al. 2004); however, in practice, reactive approaches are more common.

Sustainable forest management plans may also directly or indirectly acknowledge climate change as a driver or external force of change that may occur within the planning area. A plan that directly incorporates climate change considerations explicitly acknowledges climate change as a potential driver of ecosystem changes, and identifies climate change vulnerabilities and actions that will be taken to reduce those vulnerabilities and manage risks within the planning area. Alternatively, a plan that indirectly incorporates climate change considerations may incorporate a ‘best management practice’ for sustainable forest management that is consistent with what is believed to be an appropriate climate adaptation response; the practice is incorporated into a plan without specifically considering it as a response to actual or anticipated climate change.

A simple typology can be described to categorize sustainable forest management plans according to how they address climate change. Four types of plans can be distinguished: (1) proactive-direct; (2) proactive-indirect; (3) reactive-direct; and (4) reactive-indirect (Table 9). This typology provides a basis for examining the potential effectiveness of sustainable forest management plans in reducing vulnerabilities and addressing and managing the risks posed by climate change.
Table 9

Proposed typology to characterize how strategic forest management plans address climate change

 

Forest management plans directly acknowledge climate change as a driver of change within the planning area

Forest management plans indirectly acknowledge climate change as a driver of change within the planning area

A proactive forest management plan identifies actions that will be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks in anticipation of change

Proactive-Direct: Climate change vulnerabilities are explicitly identified in sustainable forest management plans as are actions that will be taken to reduce those vulnerabilities and manage risks in anticipation of climate impacts

Proactive-Indirect: Forest management plans incorporate a ‘best management practice’ that is consistent with what has been suggested to be an appropriate climate adaptation response to reduce vulnerabilities and manage climate-associated risks, but this practice was not incorporated with the specific purpose of addressing climate change

A reactive forest management plan identifies actions that will be taken to in response to a specific change after that change has taken place

Reactive-Direct: Climate change vulnerabilities are explicitly identified in a forest management plan, but not the actions that will be taken to reduce those vulnerabilities and manage risks. The plan establishes mechanisms to track and monitor climate change impacts (and other drivers of change) and identifies thresholds that, if crossed, warrant management attention. When impacts of climate surpass the threshold, managers are poised to develop responses that more effectively take climate change considerations into account

Reactive-Indirect: Climate change vulnerabilities are not explicitly identified in a forest management plan, nor are the actions that will be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks. Forest management plans incorporate a ‘best management practice’ that is consistent with what has been suggested to be an appropriate climate adaptation response. Management practices may not effectively reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks because forest managers may not be aware of vulnerabilities and/or changes taking place on the land base and/or what is driving these changes and/or what the locally appropriate management adaptation might be

4.2 Application of typology to CATT and TTTT forest management plans

Using the typology described in Table 9, the CATT SFMP is best categorized as a Reactive-Indirect plan, and the TTTT SFMP as a Proactive-Indirect plan. Neither plan explicitly identified climate change vulnerabilities and actions that will be taken to reduce those vulnerabilities and manage risks. Consequently, management tactics were not incorporated into either plan specifically in response to actual or anticipated climate change. Rather, the plans have incorporated some examples of ‘best management practices’ for sustainable forest management that are also consistent with what has been suggested to be an appropriate climate adaptation response. Both plans can therefore be described as dealing with climate change indirectly. The CATT SFMP is a reactive plan as it identifies actions that will be taken in response to change only after that change has taken place. It does not explicitly acknowledge the change driver in developing the management response. Since the TTTT plan was not developed in response to a change in the forested land base, it is classed as a proactive plan. However, it is not truly a proactive in the sense that, while it has identified monitoring and adaptive management as essential management responses to anticipate future changes, it does not explicitly identify what actions will be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks in anticipation of these changes. In the case of the TTTT plan, there is an opportunity to “learn” from the climate-driven salvage experience in the CATT. In subsequent lower-level plans, it needs to identify potential vulnerabilities to climate change and the actions that can be taken to reduce these vulnerabilities.

5 Conclusions

In the long-term, and in the light of progressive impacts, climate change adaptation will be necessary to achieve sustainable forest management (Ogden and Innes 2007a). However, even in a jurisdiction facing rapid ecological changes driven by climate change, where there is a relatively high level of awareness of climate change and its implications, forestry planning processes have yet to grapple directly with the risks that climate change may pose to the ability of forest managers to achieve the stated goals and objectives of sustainable forest management plans. This is despite improvements in scientific and local understanding of potential effects of climate change. It is possible that either the uncertainties associated with climate change or the lack of knowledge of how to cope with these uncertainties has discouraged the incorporation of climate change considerations into these sustainable forest management plans. However, these plans are indirectly doing a reasonable job of minimizing the risks associated with climate change largely because of their adherence to the principles and practice of sustainable forest management and the adoption of an adaptive management framework.

Footnotes
1

Montréal Process criteria are: 1—conservation of biological diversity; 2—maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems; 3—maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality; 4—conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources; 5—maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles; 6—maintenance and enhancement of long-term socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies; and 7—legal, institutional and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management (Montréal Process Working Group 1999).

 
2

The four goals the plan are (a) functioning forest ecosystems, (b) community sustainability and benefits, (c) cooperative forest planning and management, and (d) build local capacity. The plan may be viewed at www.caforestry.ca.

 
4

The five goals the plan are (a) conserve biological diversity, (b) maintain forest ecosystem health and productivity, (c) conserve and maintain soil and water resources (d) maintain and enhance multiple socio-economic benefits and (e) maintain and enhance community sustainability. The plan may be viewed at http://www.emr.gov.yk.ca/forestry/.

 
5

The timber supply analysis and rationale for the harvest level may be viewed at www.caforestry.ca.

 

Acknowledgements

The financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council under the Canada Graduate Scholarship program is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also wish to thank the anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions during the preparation of this manuscript.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008