Increasing Climate Resilience in the Wabanaki Forest

Since 2017, Community Forests International has been working to understand the effects of climate change on the Wabanaki Forest, a unique forest type that grows in the Maritime Provinces, and to develop tools to help forest professionals and landowners adapt to climate change.

The Wabanaki forest, also called the Acadian forest, roughly spans the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and parts of New England. This unique forest type is an eco-region transition zone, boasting tree species found in both the boreal forest to the north and the hardwood forest to the south, and supports a rich diversity of life and livelihoods. However, this forest is vulnerable to changes in the climate, as some species are at their range limits and are growing as far north or south as they can tolerate.

Many of the region’s forests suffer from historic and severe degradation as a result of decades of intensive management of timber. Repeated interventions and follow-up treatments have facilitated the regeneration of certain softwood species prized for timber, which are primarily cold-tolerant species affiliated with the boreal forest. Management that has enabled the growth and expansion of these species has come mainly at the expense of longer-lived, shade-tolerant species, many of which are common to more southern climates. This compromises the ability of the forest ecosystem to withstand the effects of a warming climate.

Community Forests International is encouraging forest professionals and landowners in the region to manage forests for greater carbon storage and resilience to climate change. They have created a series of tools and resources to support forest management that adapts to the rapidly changing climate and prioritizes resilience and long-term carbon storage in our forests.