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The Ripple Effect – Forests Ontario’s Annual Conference

Posted: January 4, 2018

Climate change is happening now and the impacts are causing a ripple effect across the globe. Whether you believe in climate change or not, our world is facing greater challenges. Climate change has meant more extreme weather, dirtier air, warmer water, food and water shortages, more disease, and severe impacts on human health.

Despite dire predictions around climate change, there are also new opportunities, including a strengthening bio-economy, increased support for green infrastructure, and the monetization of environmental attributes such as carbon offsets. A changing climate and the associated impacts are new realities affecting society, the environment, and the economy through a “ripple effect.” Forest owners will soon face a range of risks and opportunities, both new and familiar.

Society is slowly acknowledging that the climate is changing. The logical next question is—“So now what?” One answer already known by forest managers, and strongly endorsed by the United Nations, is that forests will play a key role in addressing climate change. There are two main strategies being implemented to address climate change, adaptation and mitigation.

Climate adaptation refers to “the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.” An example of adaptation is installing water storage or expanding irrigation systems to offset longer and drier periods of drought.

Climate mitigation is “any action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term risk and hazards of climate change to human life and property.” Switching from fossil to renewable fuels is one example of climate mitigation. Forests will have an essential role in the implementation of both adaptation and mitigation strategies at the local and global scale.

A climate-related event sends ripples throughout society, the environment, and the economy. Hurricane Irma severely impacted gas refineries in Texas and a few days later we all paid substantially more for gas at the pumps and it got more expensive to live our lives and run our businesses. Wildfires in BC have changed the ecosystems for many parts of the province, which will impact everything from wildlife populations, timber supply, seedling supplies, tourism and how communities will be re-built.

Nobody has all of the answers but it’s essential we all contribute to the question—“So now what?”  Bring your ideas and experience and please join us on February 9, 2018 for Forests Ontario’s Annual Conference, where expert speakers will share their knowledge on “Our Forests in a Changing Climate.”

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