New Brunswick

Fundy Biosphere group sees dramatic change in Acadian forest

Climate change will have a dramatic impact on New Brunswick's Acadian forest, according to a new study.

Fundy Biosphere Reserve scientist Ben Phillips says overall the Acadian forest will do worse

Harry Forestell and conservation scientist Ben Phillips discuss the impact of climate change on New Brunswick forests, and what can be done to minimize the impact. 5:02

Climate change will have a dramatic impact on New Brunswick's Acadian forest, according to a new study.

The Fundy Biosphere Reserve completed an analysis of which native species have the best chance to thrive, and which could suffer under changing climate conditions over the next 100 years.

Ben Phillips, a conservation scientist, says a two-degree difference in temperature would have a big impact on trees that prefer the cold.

"That puts us here in southeastern New Brunswick more in a Boston type of climate," said Phillips.

A new study released Tuesday by the Fundy Biosphere Reserve in southeastern New Brunswick says the composition of the Acadian forest must change for it to thrive with warmer temperatures. (Trevor Nickerson/Fundy Biosphere Reserve)
"If you think of Boston, they have temperate forests there, the trees grow much faster, you don't see the coniferous softwoods down there."

Northern tree species including spruce, fir, birch, and poplar will likely face more insects, disease, extreme weather, and competition, which will lead to slower growth and higher mortality, he said.

"We'll have more of those disturbances, those insect outbreaks, those types of things, but if we play the cards right then we should be able to still have a very productive forest," he said.

"But it is going to be a period of change and we need to think about this differently than we have in the past."

Top 8 trees of the future

Phillips says southern species such as red and sugar maples, red oak, white pine, American beech, eastern hemlock, black cherry and Ironwood will benefit from the longer growing season.

Ben Phillips, a conservation scientist with the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, says with climate change many trees will be affected by insects and disease. (Maeve McFadden/CBC)
Phillips says anyone planting trees, including those on Crown land or private lots, should focus on those eight species, but says any healthy forest has to be diverse.

"So they want to focus on the eight, we want to also have a good diversity in the middle and then the ones on end, the spruces, the poplars, the birches, those ones look like they're not going to do very well so we want to try to start to thin some of those out of our forests."

Phillips says the goal is a forest that is more resilient to climate change. 

"Overall it looks like the Acadian forest, a majority of the species will probably do worse with climate change," he said.

The Fundy Biosphere Reserve is a non-profit organization that includes an area of more than 430,000 hectares of the upper Bay of Fundy coast, from St. Martins to the Tantramar Marsh to Moncton.

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