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Stratford Area Watershed Improvement Group: A Glimpse into the Exciting World of Watersheds on Prince Edward Island

Planting (and Planning) for Climate Change

The distribution of species is highly dependent on climate; after all, forest regions themselves are partially based on climate as well as topography. Changes in climate affect the distribution of plant species, which thereby change the composition of a forest. Species differ in the way they interact with the environment around them and; therefore, affect the ecosystem properties themselves.

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Plant hardiness zones throughout the last 80 years (reference: NRCAN)

Species that are planted now, in the suitability zone it’s approved for, may grow up in a very different climate than the one today.  In fact, there are some species that may not be able to migrate or adapt quickly enough to thrive or survive in a rapidly changing climate. It is imperative that forest management take changing climate into account when planning for future forests.

Climate change is now a new phenomenon when it comes to plants; it’s been affecting the geographical range of plants for many, many years.  Projections suggest that the climate in which plants currently live will shift to new locations. The problem we face; however, is that we are unsure how to accurately forecast these changes and the ability of the tree species to adapt to the new conditions.

It is difficult to determine what to plant for a changing climate, but experts and professionals are working towards a solid plan for the future of Canadian forests.

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Photo: Carter Livingstone

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