How will climate change affect our trees and forests?
In theory, higher levels of carbon dioxide should increase forest growth and expand forest distribution northward. However, other variables-such as drought may limit these effects and some forests may in the near term be more vulnerable to fire, insects and diseases. The rate of change, as well as the number and severity of extreme events, will affect both the size of impacts and our ability to respond.
Depending on the rate of climate change and temperature increase, longer-lived plants such as trees may be less able to survive in their environment. Trees usually adapt to changing climatic pressures through natural selection or gradual movement of seeds to favourable habitats. However, researchers are concerned that the rate of climate change anticipated in the next century may exceed the adaptive capacity of our tree species, and both the government and industry are working to determine how forest management practices should change as a result.