Adapting Forests to Climate Change

By May 6, 2015Blog
Ben Filewod

I had the pleasure of attending an informative and productive workshop on adapting Manitoba’s forests to climate change in Winnipeg late last month.

The workshop sought to raise awareness and facilitate an exchange of views amongst forestry professionals. It provided a welcome forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities inherent in quantifying climate vulnerabilities and developing adaptive responses, as well as providing a forum to explore priority actions.

It was particularly relevant for the CBFA because of the work we are doing across the country under Goal 4 of our agreement regarding the development of climate-friendly practices for the Canadian boreal. Our work in this area addresses both adaptation and mitigation, and the workshop provided an important opportunity to learn about government resources on adaptation. Perhaps more importantly, it provided a forum to discuss the practical side of both issues with our Manitoba members who have forest operations in the province. In fact, we successfully identified a key path forward for our work on climate friendly practices that will be tabled at the next National Working Group Goal 4 meeting.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The day centred on an in-depth discussion of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ (CCFM) Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) adaptation handbook series called ‘Adapting Sustainable Forest Management to Climate Change’. The series provides high-level framing guidance to help organizations adapt their SFM operations. These workflow-oriented documents offer a roadmap that leads from a comprehensive vulnerability assessment through to the identification of adaptation actions. As well, the scalable nature of the series means that the level of detail is up to the practitioner.

It is welcome news to learn that CCFM is also working on a guidebook, including worksheets and workflow charts, to lead practitioners through the vulnerability assessment and adaptation mainstreaming elements of the handbook series.

To illustrate how the CCFM report series can yield valuable insights utilizing available resources within an organization, a detailed case study of how this comprehensive adaptation decision support tool was applied to undertake a vulnerability assessment of the Sandilands area of southeast Manitoba was presented.

This led to an instructive conversation around the table that highlighted how concerns about data quality, availability, and interpretation can be partly met by drawing on the deep locale-specific expertise of forest operations managers. It was further noted that adaptation leadership within forestry companies, and the CBFA more broadly, can benefit from the active support of committed, available, and expert interdisciplinary government teams.

The substantial technical knowledge sharing that transpired at the workshop, underscored for me the significance of advancing through collaboration, which is, after all, what the CBFA is all about.


Ben Filewod works on CBFA National Working Group 4 as an advisor with the Forest Products Association of Canada. Prior to joining FPAC, he earned a M.Sc. research in forest ecology and climate change at the University of Toronto and worked as a layout engineer in B.C.