ESSA recently participated in a 17 month project to find ways to encourage climate change adaptation within the communities of the Skeena region.

Coupled with community studies carried out by UBC sociologists, vegetation modelers from ESSA worked with Dr. Jed Kaplan and post-doctoral researcher Dr. Joe Melton, both affiliated with the ARVE modeling group at L’École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, to develop and apply the climate sensitive LPJ-GUESS vegetation model to a comprehensive 32,000 km2 landscape within the Skeena watershed.

The sociological and ecological studies were complemented by additional concurrent landscape planning research done by the World Wildlife Fund and Cortex Consultants, and by a program to sample and monitor fisheries sensitive watersheds, sponsored by the BC Ministry of Environment.

The LPJ-GUESS model is a hybrid plant physiology model coupled with a canopy gap-dynamics model and was used to model historic tree succession patterns over the entire region. Results from 3 future climate scenario simulations were incorporated to create scenarios of vegetation change under future climates, and the role of fire and harvesting were also investigated.

Animations from the LPJ-Guess models show how tree species suitability can change under 3 possible future climates.

Subalpine fir is reduced in valley bottoms and moves upslope.
Mountain hemlock is reduced at middle and upper elevations.
Grasses are reduced at higher elevations, replaced by trees; and also slightly reduced at lower elevations.
Western red cedar shows a slightly expanded range over time and continues to be prevalent on the coast.
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