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Modelling the effects of climate change and timber harvest on the forests of central Nova Scotia, Canada

Steenberg, James W. N., Duinker, Peter N., Bush, Peter G.
Annals of forest science 2013 v.70 no.1 pp. 61-73
Picea, biogeography, climate, climate change, conifers, forest management, forests, landscapes, models, mortality, pioneer species, prediction, pulp, sustainable forestry, temperature, trees, watersheds, Nova Scotia
CONTEXT: Understanding the range of possible climate change impacts on forests and the interactions between them is vital to sustainable forest management. AIMS: We examine whether the combined influence of climate change and timber harvest will affect tree species distribution and productivity beyond predictions based on climate alone. METHODS: We used the landscape disturbance model LANDIS-II to simulate two climate and two harvest scenarios in 14,000 ha of managed watersheds. RESULTS: The elevated temperature led to a decline in the abundance of boreal species and a substantial increase in some temperate and pioneer species. Importantly, the interaction of climate change and timber harvest yielded changes in the distribution of some species that would not be expected based on climate alone. Conversely, some late-successional species exhibited resistance to climate-driven changes in their distribution. Climate change caused an increase in forest productivity when harvest was simulated, but a decrease in no-harvest scenarios. A time lag in forest response was likely responsible for this decrease in the absence of widespread mortality. CONCLUSIONS: The finding that disturbance may drive the range expansion of early-successional broadleaved species and cause a decline of red spruce has implications for forest community associations, as well as for forest management where conifers are favoured for pulp production.