Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations in the Forests of Central Nova Scotia
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Global climate change is at the forefront of issues in forest management. Forest managers are now faced with the challenge of incorporating climate change into their forest management values and objectives, as existing paradigms may be invalidated by the changing climate. The exploration of climate change impacts and formulation of potential management strategies will be necessary to reduce the vulnerability of forests. Halifax Water manages forest watersheds for the purpose of supplying clean water to much of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The purpose of this study is to characterize the future forest structure of the two principal watersheds supplying the Halifax Regional Municipality and to evaluate different adaptations incorporated into forest management using a modelling approach. The landscape disturbance model LANDIS-II and ecosystem process model PnET-II were used to simulate the forest response to climate change and adaptive measures in timber harvesting. Several impacts of climate change were examined in the study area. The most drastic effect of climate change in the watersheds was considerable change in forest composition, with a sharp decline in the abundance of boreal species, such as balsam fir and black spruce, and an aggressive increase in some temperate and pioneer species, such as red maple and aspens. Incorporating climate change adaptation into timber harvesting scenarios was found to be effective in minimizing trade-offs between timber supply and forest ecosystem integrity in the face of climate change. The watersheds managed by Halifax Water represent a situation where the principal objective is the maintenance of water quality as opposed to timber production, and therefore offer a unique opportunity to implement cutting-edge practices and adaptive forest management focused on climate change resilience and resistance while also facilitating transition to the changing climate.