UBC Undergraduate Research

Potential future of major British Columbian park land forest tree species and the effects of climate change on park tree health Beier, Clayton


Parks and protected areas in British Columbia are responsible for the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, natural ecosystems, and species at risk while integrating these goals with outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. Parks have been criticized for not meeting stated goals of ecological integrity, and for taking little action to ensure the conservation of ecological integrity. Management plans are dated and incomplete and there are concerns that efficacy of park networks and management in meeting the stated ecological integrity goals will be degraded further under a changing climate. In recognition of these criticisms B.C. Parks have stated strategies which involve the use of scientific research and technologies in their decision making processes. Mortality of trees due to direct and indirect effects of changing climate will have an impact both on goals of ecological integrity and quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. An approach developed by Coops et al. (2011) that uses empirical and process based (3-PG) data for tree species range change in B.C. was applied to 14 widespread coniferous B.C. species. Future predicted ranged under the intergovernmental panel on climate change emission scenarios A2 and B1 were produced at 3 future timesteps. This predicted data was then used to produce maps of stressed area of each species current range within B.C. parks. These data were subdivided by B.C. ecoprovince ranges. Creation of stressed park range areas was highly variable between species (0%-73% of current protected park ranges) and ecoprovinces (2%-55% of current protected species ranges). Parks in the Southern Alaska Mountains and Northern Boreal mountains had the greatest stress proportions. Whitebark pine showed the most stress area under climate change, and amabilis fir the least. A2 scenario conditions had higher rates of stress range production than B1 for most species and ecoprovinces. The results show that resistance of parks to the effects of climate change is dependent on the species present. As parks increase their efforts to meet stated goals of ecological integrity studies such as this will be necessary if the decision making process is to remain relevant in a changing climate.

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