Adapting Management of the Boreal Forest

By December 1, 2016Blog, CBFA News

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement signatories released an Integrated Planning and Adaptive Management Framework this week.

The CBFA Agreement includes six goals that, taken together and implemented through an adaptive management approach, aim to advance both conservation and forest sector competitiveness in the boreal forest. The strength of the agreement will be in achievement of all goals in an integrated and efficient fashion. In support of these efforts, the Integrated Planning and Adaptive Management Framework outlines a seven-step process for decision making and planning within the CBFA and is intended to help CBFA signatories develop robust, transparent and adaptable recommendations that consider social, economic and environmental values. This guidance will help support implementation of a consistent approach to decision making across the CBFA, while allowing for regional flexibility, as necessary.

The guidance in the report is based on the principles of Adaptive Management and Structured Decision Making. Adaptive management provides a systematic approach to understanding and managing uncertainty in natural resource management decisions and provides opportunities to learn and apply the learning to management. Structured decision-making provides a systematic approach to identifying and evaluating alternative choices and making transparent and defensible decisions in situations characterized by difficult trade-offs and uncertainties. Together, this guidance will help signatories create science-based recommendations that address the goals of the agreement and that are trans­parent and defensible.

“Recommending an active approach to adaptively managing the boreal is central to the commitments of the CBFA signatories,” says Aran O’Carroll, Executive Director of the CBFA Secretariat, “such an approach recognizes the limits of our knowledge of the ecological, social and cultural complexities of this vast landscape, the world’s largest terrestrial ecosystem.”

As signatory groups are at different stages of planning and engagement, the guidance is designed to be useful at multiple stages. Groups that are at early stages are encouraged to use this approach to guide all stages of planning and analysis. Those already in later stages of the work may draw on the guidance for later steps of recommendation development and implementation (such as monitoring and review), and to inform approaches to consultation, engagement, recommendation completion and documentation.

Fiona Schmiegelow, Senior Science Advisor to the CBFA and Independent Chair of the CBFA Science Committee, states “the CBFA is challenged by complex planning decisions that involve many considerations.  There will rarely be a single, correct answer to the questions posed, and the context for decisions will be dynamic as conditions change.  This guidance supports a systematic approach that will allow for transparent evaluation of options, and establishment of an adaptive process for evaluating and revisiting decisions in light of new information.  It provides a robust foundation for the CBFA to achieve its ambitious goals.”

To read the CBFA’s guidance for integrated decision-making and adaptive management find the report here

Learn more about Dr. Schmiegelow here

Kris McCleary is the co-ordinator for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement’s Science Committee.