Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Consensus View on Forests, Peatlands and Climate

This month the Forestry Chronicle printed the article Maintaining the role of Canada's forests and peatlands in climate regulation. The article is exciting for two reasons. First, it lays out a clear policy blueprint for how forests and peatlands shoudl be managed in the context of climate change and the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Second, it puts to rest a very unhelpful dynamic that emerged in the pages of the very same journal - two years ago researchers from the Ontario Forest Research Institute wrote a flaming piece of rhetoric assailing the environmental community's assertions that forests should be protected to help fight climate change.

This new article presents the consensus findings of a two-day workshop in Ottawa that brought together government scientists, university academics and ENGO policy experts to develop management recommendations to maintain the role of Canada's forests and peatlands in climate regulation.

Here are the recommended management actions:
  • Reduce deforestation and increase afforestation
  • Avoid logging of natural forests
  • Employ forest management practices that enhance carbon storage:
    • 1. reduce soil disturbance and maintain coarse woody debris
    • 2. silvicultural activities to increase productivity and accelerate regeneration
    • 3. extend rotation periods
  • Employ forest sector practices to enhance carbon storage and minimize greenhouse gas emissions:
    • 1. capture methane emissions from forest products at landfills
    • 2. increase recycling and switch production to longer lived forest products
    • 3. use energy in wood waste for power production
  • Minimize the extraction of peat soils
  • Minimize soil disturbance
    • 1. minimize ground disturbance in areas with saturated soils
    • 2. avoid disturbance to permafrost
  • Reduce the adverse climate impacts of fire and insect disturbances
    • 1. suppress fire and insect events where appropriate in the managed forest
    • 2. restore the natural resilience of forest to disturbance
    • 3. use salvage logging where appropriate to reduce harvest of undisturbed forest
The participants in the workshop were Mathew Carlson (Canadian Boreal Initiative), Jing Chen (University of Toronto), Stewart Elgie (University of Ottawa), Chris Henschel (CPAWS), Werner Kurz (Canadian Forest SerAlvaro Montenegro (University of Victoria), Nigel Roulet (McGill University), Neal Scott (Queen's University), Charles Tarnocai (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), and Jeff Wells (International Boreal Conservation Campaign).

1 comment:

Timothy said...

When you get a chance to meet again-- I recommend thinking about having Good Nature Publishing design a climate impacts poster for you so more people can come to understand the dynamics at work.

We recently completed work on a magnificent painting showing the current and expected impacts 100 years out on the Olympic Peninsula.

It helps people focus to see fine art tell this story.

Best fishes,

Timothy Colman
Good Nature Publishing
206 622 9522 Seattle