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Vulnerability of timber supply to projected changes in fire regime in Canada’s managed forests

Gauthier, S., Bernier, P.Y., Boulanger, Y., Guo, J., Guindon, L., Beaudoin, A., Boucher, D.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2015 v.45 no.11 pp. 1439-1447
ecological zones, fire regime, forest fires, forest growth, forest management, forests, risk, timber supply, tree growth, Canada
The frequency of forest fires is predicted to increase in Canada, which may affect the availability of timber for industrial purposes. We therefore carried out an evaluation of the timber supply vulnerability to current and future fire risk through simplified calculations involving historical forest growth and harvest rates and current and projected forest burn rates. Calculations were performed at the level of forest management areas (FMAs) across the boreal and montane ecozones of Canada. For some FMAs, the vulnerability of timber supply to fire was estimated to be high to extreme by the middle of the century. For those FMAs, the increases in tree growth necessary to negate these risks were generally unrealistic. A modest simulated decrease in tree growth over time, however, was sufficient to raise the vulnerability of many other FMAs from low to moderate. Known biases in the analysis suggest that our assessment might underestimate the level of vulnerability in all FMAs. Other natural disturbances are not included in the analysis but their impact on timber supply may be additive to that of fire. Some adaptation measures to face these increasing risks are discussed.