Building Capacity of New Brunswick Woodlot Owners to Adapt to Climate Change

Between 2019-2022, the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners (NBFWO) led a project to build the capacity of foresters, forest technicians, and private woodlot owners in New Brunswick by incorporating climate change adaptation in woodlot management plans and implementing adaptation measures that result in climate-resilient forests. The Acadian Forest is expected to experience increased precipitation, temperature, and extreme events such as flooding and drought. Some tree species are projected to become more stressed (e.g., balsam fir, white spruce, white birch), while more southern tree species are better adapted to the warming climate (e.g., eastern white pine, red oak, red maple). As the climate becomes less favourable for the dominant species in timber production, NBFWO anticipates challenges with sustainable wood supply and the various goods and services derived from the forest. The NBFWO recognized that future productivity would be reduced without intervention, affecting carbon sequestration, timber production, and recreational and wildlife management. Sustainable management of the Acadian Forests will increase species that favour projected conditions, modify the competition to reduce the stress on trees due to drought, and maximize the survival of certain tree species. To bridge the knowledge gap and disseminate information, the NBFWO project included training, webinars, silviculture prescription guidelines, and a tool to build the capacity of woodlot owners in the Acadian Forest by raising awareness of climate change’s impact and sharing adaptation.

This project was supported by funding from Natural Resource Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise Program (BRACE).

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Based on the regional climate projections from the Climate Atlas of Canada, the NBFWO identified a series of impacts on New Brunswick woodlots, including increased temperature and more intense and more prolonged summer droughts, leading to increased evapotranspiration rates and a net decrease in available water. Spring flooding and severe storm events will increase soil erosion, exposing tree roots. Additionally, invasive insects and fungi migrating from other areas may be better adapted to the new climate regimes increasing the number or damage caused by such passing pathogens. Climate change poses a high risk to productivity for tree communities that remain in their current composition without intervention. Without making proactive changes, the NBFWO recognized that successional pathways could lead to a loop where non-adapted species continue to grow and reduce their productivity affecting carbon sequestration, timber production, and recreational and wildlife management.

For additional climate information, look at the Resources section of this example (below).

Identifying Actions

The project goals were to build the capacity of woodlot owners, foresters, and forest technicians to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Since woodlot owners are not always aware of the options available to them to manage their lands and minimize the negative impacts on the forest, the NBFWO recognized the need to disseminate scientific knowledge on climate change to ensure that the industry continues to be a renewable, sustainable resource. Reforestation with the right species will help mitigate climate change while assisting woodlot owners in meeting their long-term goals. The NBFWO project bridged the knowledge gap by introducing woodlot owners to alternative treatment options that maintain and encourage best practice silviculture management through their webinars, presentations, and other educational materials. Simultaneously, woodlot owners who shift to long-term management usually require the assistance of forestry professionals. The NBFWO identified the need to provide them with silviculture prescription guidelines and adaptation tools.


The NBFWO held workshops and webinars with woodlot owners and forestry professionals to raise awareness about climate change impacts on forests in New Brunswick. They also created and presented silviculture prescription guidelines and tools incorporating climate change adaptation.

Training, webinars, and conference presentations were recorded and posted online on the NBFWO YouTube Channel as an open resource. Topics included:

  • Climate Change Resilience in the Acadian Forest
  • Forest Succession under Anticipated Future Climate Change
  • Introduction to Adaptive Silviculture in a Changing Climate
  • Our Changing Forest Series
  • Forest Pest and Diseases
  • Silviculture Prescription Guidelines and Tools

The Climate Change Resilience and Carbon Storage Silvicultural Prescription Decision Tree (C&C Decision Tree) is a flow chart that was created to provide individual recommended treatments and management strategies that serve as a guide for the management of the stand in the long term. The tool is designed to deliver on two silvicultural objectives: 1) maintain or enhance the climate change resilience of a stand, and 2) maximize the carbon storage of a stand.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

In order to explore how climate change will affect New Brunswick woodlot owners in the future, NBFWO is studying four private woodlots that represent different site conditions and management goals. Each site consists of a one-acre control area (i.e., left untreated), one acre with traditional treatments applied, and one acre that is treated using recommendations from the climate adaptive silviculture prescription tool. On each woodlot study area, foresters record average stand age, percent crown closure, regeneration status, ground conditions, and the history of the areas to establish the species on site and the timber volumes. The sample plot areas will remain in place for years to come, allowing for further study that will improve the knowledge about the effects of climate change on the Acadian Forest Region.

Next Steps

Although funding for this project has ended, new information about management options for Acadian Forests will continue to be updated and made publicly available. Moving forward, continued collaboration between woodlot owners, forestry technicians, and harvesting contractors is needed. New management strategies, including reforestation with climate resilience species, will be required in the timber industry as the climate becomes less favourable for some species.


Link to Full Case Study

Additional Resources:

Additional Climate Information:

Using climate change projections enables better adaptation decisions, as it allows you to better understand how the climate may change. To learn how to choose, access, and understand climate data, visit’s Learning Zone.

For more information on variables that may be useful in work related to Woodlot Management, visit and click “Explore by Variable”. Here you will find pertinent future climate projections related to temperature and precipitation.