Modelling cumulative effects (CE) implies that we can measure and forecast current and future consequences of multiple stressors such as wildfires, pests, forestry and other anthropogenic disturbances, and climate change on the ecosystem services supplied by Canada’s forests. As the number of natural and human-caused disturbances change, CE require evaluation of land and forest management interactions, while also assessing the implications of shifting prioritization among more than one forest value (e.g., woodland caribou, other Species at Risk (SAR), timber supply, carbon, and downstream economic values). This is a critical issue for all jurisdictions in Canada and requires large multidisciplinary and collaborative efforts based on sound scientific and socio-economic research. This Western Boreal Initiative represents an ambitious spatial expansion and diversification of forest values from a pilot project in Northwest Territories (Micheletti et al., 2019, 2021; Stewart et al., in prep).
The proposed project will integrate the best available data, meta-modeling tools, a diverse array of domain experts, and ongoing stakeholder engagement to evaluate the cumulative effects of wildfire, key pests, and anthropogenic disturbances, and climate change on forest values in the Western Boreal Forests of Canada. Working with scientists, foresters, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous Peoples, and other stakeholders, we will provide forecasts of future forest conditions and interpretations of ecological and socio-economic indicators, as well as how these compare to various thresholds and targets. When these indicators are forecasted to pass their respective thresholds and targets, we will quantify the trade-offs with other values, and attempt to identify solutions through optimization that maximize synergies and minimize negative trade-offs. Key values we will evaluate are economic values related to forestry, conservation values of established protected areas, National Parks, Species at Risk (including boreal and woodland caribou), Environment and Climate Change Canada priority places and the implication on forest carbon. This work will support multi-species management objectives and the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
We propose one higher level project objective and numerous sub-objectives. At the highest level, our objective is to build a powerful and generic toolkit for forest, species, and land management under changing future conditions that we apply to the Western Boreal Forest region of Canada (Figure 2 and 3). This toolkit will be built with flexible, interoperable, scientifically-based models and data and allow for a new generation of integrated answers to ongoing management questions. The management context and paradigms that we are working within includes Cumulative Effects, The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Sustainable Forest Management, Multi-species Management, and Indigenous Co-production and Knowledge. We divide this larger objective into a series of sub-objectives that will address specific elements.