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Data from: Current and projected cumulative impacts of fire, drought and insects on timber volumes across Canada


Boucher, Dominique et al. (2018), Data from: Current and projected cumulative impacts of fire, drought and insects on timber volumes across Canada, Dryad, Dataset,


Canada’s forests are shaped by disturbances such as fire, insect outbreaks and droughts that often overlap in time and space. The resulting cumulative disturbance risks and potential impacts on forests are generally not well accounted for by models used to predict future impacts of disturbances on forest. This study aims at projecting future cumulative effects of four main natural disturbances – fire, mountain pine beetle, spruce budworm and drought - on timber volumes across Canada’s forests using an approach that accounts for potential overlap among disturbances. Available predictive models for the four natural disturbances were used to project timber volumes at risk under aggressive climate forcing up to 2100. Projections applied to the current vegetation suggest increases of volumes at risk related to fire, mountain pine beetle and drought over time in many regions of Canada, but a decrease of the volume at risk related to spruce budworm. When disturbance effects are cumulated, important changes in volumes at risk are projected to occur as early as 2011-2041, particularly in central and eastern Canada. In our last simulation period covering 2071 to 2100, nearly all timber volumes in most of Canada’s forest regions could be at risk of being affected by at least one of the four natural disturbances considered in our analysis, a six-fold increase relative to the baseline period (1981-2010). Tree species particularly vulnerable to specific disturbances (e.g., trembling aspen to drought) could suffer disproportionate increases in their volume at risk with potential impacts on forest composition. By 2100, estimated wood volumes not considered to be at risk could be lower than current annual timber harvests in central and eastern Canada. Current level of harvesting could thus be difficult to maintain without the implementation of adaptation measures to cope with these disturbances.

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