Motive Project

Article alert: Adaptive Capacity of Forest Management Systems on Publicly Owned Forest Landscapes in Canada

by: Ulla Vänttinen

Johnston, M., Williamson, T., Nelson, H., Van Damme, L., Ogden, A-, Hesseln, H., 2011. Adaptive Capacity of Forest Management Systems on Publicly Owned Forest Landscapes in Canada. Advances in Global Change Research, 2011. Volume 42, Part 3, 267-278


The degree to which Canadian forest management policies, institutions, and other factors either support or hinder the development of climate change adaptive capacity is discussed. The analysis is based on discussions with government and industry forest managers across Canada. Managers feel that they have the tools and the technical capability to successfully adapt. However, while these tools and abilities are available to forest managers, they are not always utilized due to policy barriers or lack of resources. Also, the adaptive capacity requirements of forest managers may be increasing as a result of global warming, as well as broader social, economic, and market trends. A model of “embedded science,” in which scientists closely interact with forest managers in planning exercises leads to increased adaptive capacity. Some institutions, such as forest certification, have the potential for providing a framework for determining adaptation and adaptive capacity requirements. However, they will need to be modified in order to realize that potential. Forest management policy generally supports adaptation, but may limit the implementation of adaptation options in cases where the required innovation lies far outside of business-as-usual activities. Forest management policy needs to become more flexible and forward-looking, focusing on expected future outcomes under potentially different conditions, while at the same time acknowledging the uncertainty in expected outcomes. Reforming existing forest tenure arrangements and providing forest managers with more flexibility and local autonomy will allow more timely adaptation to climate change as well as other sources of change.

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