ERA provided $3 million to the Tree Species Adaptation Risk Management Project. The climate change adaptation project replicated climate variations through strategic plantings at test sites of species from other regions of the province (for example, planting northern species in southern Alberta). This knowledge is crucial to the province’s forest industry as well as the species that depend on forest environments. Led by the Foothills Research Institute and Tree Improvement Alberta, the 3-year project involved a consortium of 13 industry partners, and Alberta Environment and Parks.
According to Project Manager Daniel Chicoine, “The funding is essential since, given the poor financial state of the forest industry, this type of project would never get off the ground. It is vital in preparing Alberta forests for adaptation to climate stressors to ensure healthy forests for future generations. The trials need to be established promptly given the lengthy period required to see how trees respond.”
Chicoine noted: “Forestry needs to be ahead of climate change. Forest species take up to 80 years to grow and learnings are much more difficult to obtain. It’s important to begin this project and to go beyond our current understandings.”
Commercially important tree species were the focus, including Lodgepole and Jack Pines, White and Black Spruces, Trembling Aspen and Black Poplar. The focus was to find families of trees and individual species that show resistance to drought, insect infestation and disease to ensure their survival for the future.