Even Forests can be Under Stress

Forests“Climate Change, Bark Beetles and Oil Exploration – Sustaining Forests Under Stress” was the title of  Victor Lieffers presentation. Victor is the Chair of the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta and his focus was on the different stressors that forests are currently facing. He started with climate change and gave us an illustration that we could all relate to. A 4 degree change in weather averages would be like Whitecourt having weather and temperatures similar to Lethbridge. Victor’s concern was the current vegetation would no longer flourish. I found Victor’s presentation really interesting but I don’t necessarily agree with all of his predictions. I believe we don’t give nature enough credit for her ability to adapt and change and the predictions that are made don’t always take this into account.

Next up was the pine beetle. We all hope that this little critter has run its course but its devastation of our forests has left quite a dilemma. It appears the regeneration of the pine trees is not happening for reasons Victor explained quite well and we may need to intervene on natures behalf. Good news is they are doing some applied research on this and preliminary results look promising.

It’s funny how one thing affects another. Cut areas from resource extraction often attract moose which in turn attract moose predators like wolves. The sad part is that now this is occurring in caribou country and caribou are a much easier catch for the wolves than moose. As if the caribou didn’t have enough challenges already. Mr. Lieffers concluded his presentation by making us aware of some of the applied research that’s happening to restore these cut areas as quickly as possible.

Written on behalf of GPRC CRI This is the 6th in a series of posts by Janet highlighting the speakers from the 2014 Growing the North Conference.

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