Forest resilience to invasive pests, disease and climate change

Assessing the best management strategies in relation to increasing the overall resilience of forests to invasive pests, disease and climate change.
– Dr. Christian Messier (UQO/UQAM), Dr. Frédérick Doyon, Philippe Nolet and Rebeca Cordero Montoya (UQO), Guy Lessard (CERFO)

This project is one component of a larger forestry project with the goal of comparing various forestry techniques (strip cutting vs. selective cutting vs. no cutting) in terms of its impacts on increasing the overall resilience of the forest to global change.

Forests are increasingly being managed for a multitude of ecosystem services occurring at both the stand and landscape scales. However, these services are being threatened by rapidly changing biotic and abiotic factors such as invasive diseases, insects and climate change. For example, in the last 40 years the Kenauk forests have been invaded by dutch elm and beech bark diseases and more recently the ash-bore epidemic which are decimating important tree species. Many more insects and diseases, already found in the north-eastern US, are also likely to move into Kenauk in the next 40 years. This is occurring simultaneously with rapidly changing climates and increasing human demands. To respond to these challenges, forest managers are required to develop new management strategies aimed at maintaining or increasing the overall resilience of the forest so as to maintain its ability to continue providing vital ecosystem services. Based on the theory of complexity science, this project will evaluate at the stand and landscape scales, using simulation models, the best management strategies to insure forests will continue providing ecosystem services. To ensure an effective adaptation strategy, the following steps will be followed: 1) develop a vulnerability assessment for invasive diseases, insects and climate change; 2) plan and develop long-term scenarios using new analytical tools and models that specifically acknowledge the prevalence of highly uncertain social, economic, climatic, and ecological conditions; and 3) test silvicultural practices that favour as high a tree species diversity as possible with the right balance of functioning traits to insure as high a resilience to disturbances and stressors that are predicted for this region.

New this year is the pan-Canadian DIVERSE project, which aims to test innovative new approaches to improve forest resilience faced with global change stressors through field trials and modelling by a coordinated national network of experts using six fully integrated research themes:

  • Theme 1: Forest Resilience and Vulnerability Portrait – evaluate forest changes over the past 40 years
  • Theme 2: Identify Suitable Tree Species – identify species that are better adapted to current and future environmental conditions
  • Theme 3: Functional Complex Network (FCN) – quantify forest resilience
  • Theme 4: Evaluate Forest Management Approaches – provide recommendations
  • Theme 5: Socio-Economic Conditions and Governance – evaluate feasibility of new forest management approaches
  • Theme 6: Implement Alternative Silvicultural Treatments – based on results of Themes 1-5

Stay tuned for results