New Brunswick

Forestry group prepares plan to save Acadian forest

New Brunswick-based Community Forest International is trying to adapt forests worldwide to the effects of climate change — including forests right here in New Brunswick.

Group holds a workshop on saving the Acadian forest from climate change

Community Forests International is hoping to help preserve the Acadian forest, which grows in Atlantic Canada and some New England states, from the damaging effects of climate change. (CBC)

New Brunswick-based Community Forest International is trying to adapt forests worldwide to the effects of climate change — including forests right here in New Brunswick.

Megan de Graaf, manager of the Canada Forest Program and a forest ecologist with the group, said climate change will have a major effect on the Acadian forest, which grows throughout New Brunswick. 

"What we haven't really known yet is what we can do about it in terms of forest managers to adapt our forest to be more resilient to climate change," she said in an interview with Information Morning Saint John.

The Acadian forest spans the Atlantic provinces and some of the New England states. It is not found anywhere else in the world, according to de Graaf.

The forest combines cold-loving northern boreal species, such as white spruce, black spruce and grey birch, and warm-loving species, such as white pine, red oak and yellow birch.

"We generally know that climate change means that conditions overall will become more warm and wet in this region," she said.

Next steps 

The group held a workshop this week to talk about possible solutions members have come up with to manage the forests. It was called Adapting Silviculture for Changing Climate. 

Silviculture is the practice of managing forests for a particular goal —  the most common is timber production, but in this case it's mitigating climate change. 

De Graaf said the organization has created a helpful guide that directs a forest manager through a series of questions about the forest they're in and leads them to a decision about treatment that would increase the forest's resilience during climate change. 

The group is now working to find techniques and harvesting methods to reduce high-risk species, mainly the cold-loving species, and maintain low-risk species in the forest that may thrive better as the effects of climate change worsen.

She said the group is also working with woodlot owners and the people who work in the forest every day to get a good idea of what is happening.

"We've had a great response from our partners," he said. "We've been hearing from woodlot owners pretty consistently over the years that they are hungry for a solution."

The group received funding from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund in partnership with the Federation of Woodlot Owners in New Brunswick to continue workshops, in-field training and webinars about their efforts over the next three years.

Community Forest International is a charity that works in East Africa and Eastern Canada. It is based in Sackville and establishes community forests, promoting sustainable forestry techniques and initiating environmental education.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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