Climate change has the potential to impact many aspects of the French-Severn forest including pests and diseases, winter access, natural disturbances such as fire and wind, species distributions, weather patterns, and growth and yield. Global surface temperatures have been increasingly warmer and are expected to continue to rise. Additionally, it is expected that there will be an increase in the likelihood and severity of extreme weather events. In this management unit, temperatures are expected to increase during the summer and winter. Winter operations require frozen ground to reduce impact and allow for access to stands. Warmer winters will likely mean fewer days of frozen ground and therefore a smaller window for winter operations. Although forest fires are not currently a major concern for Westwind, it is expected that there will be some increase in the number of forest fires over the next century.
It is also expected that forest pests and diseases will generally increase with climate change. Two reasons for this are: increases in tree stress can increase the vulnerability of the tree to infection and cold temperatures can limit the spread of some diseases and pests. One example of this is Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, as it’s spread would likely be limited in French-Severn forest given current temperatures but not future temperature predictions.
These changes in climatic characteristics may favour species which are adapted to either disturbance or dry conditions. Trees at the northern edge of their range may not be affected or may actually experience benefits of climate change. Species are expected to adapt and migrate with changing conditions; however, it likely will not be as fast as changes take place. For this reason, it may become important in the future to use some seeds from zones which are currently experiencing conditions similar to our predicted future conditions. Some other potential actions to adapt to climate change include adopting adaptive management principles in planning, maintaining a diverse forest, including climatic characteristics in modelling, monitoring and documenting changes, increasing salvage logging, etc.