Assessing Climate Change Vulnerabilities in Northern Boreal Forests

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Abstract

Climate change is expected to affect Canada’s boreal forests significantly. However, the nature and magnitudes of impacts are expected to vary across the country. One proactive approach to adapting to these variable changes is to identify regional vulnerabilities. This research aims to identify vulnerabilities for forests in Western Newfoundland under three scenarios of climate change, by following the core elements of the IPCC vulnerability framework, through expert opinion. Opinions were collected through a questionnaire survey and group discussions where adaptive capacity was evaluated based on the perceived effectiveness of adaptation options and the capacity to implement them. An analysis of the expert opinion data showed that infrastructural damage, alteration of plant and animal distribution, and invasive species were seen as the most significant areas of vulnerability for the forests of Western Newfoundland. This research is the first step toward a more comprehensive vulnerability assessment.