A history of forestry management responses to climatic variability and their current relevance for developing climate change adaptation strategies
Pinkard, E and Battaglia, M and Bruce, J and Matthews, S and Callister, AN and Hetherington, S and Last, I and Mathieson, S and Mitchell, C and Mohammed, C and Musk, R and Ravenwood, I and Rombouts, J and Stone, C and Wardlaw, T, A history of forestry management responses to climatic variability and their current relevance for developing climate change adaptation strategies, Forestry, 88, (2) pp. 155-171. ISSN 0015-752X (2015) [Refereed Article]
Forest managers around the world face the problem of coping with current climatic variability as well as developing strategies for future climate change adaptation. Using Australia as an example, we describe past forest management responses to climatic variability and discuss these in the context of future adaptation strategies to deal with increasingly variable and more extreme climatic events. We propose that while climatic changes remain within the bounds of those experienced historically for a particular species across its commercial distribution, the past ‘will’ provide an indication of management that will work in the future. If climatic conditions at particular forest locations move outside that range, more extreme measures may be required for which there is less or no historical precedent. We link this concept to previous research that is applicable to any species at any location in the world. This has analysed suitable conditions for particular species under current conditions, as well as analysing where and when climate change is likely to place particular species and forest locations outside the range of conditions known to be suitable for current climate. Responding to more extreme climatic changes will require policy and infrastructure support and greater planning at regional and national levels that will inform and re-direct adaptation strategies in the future. This analysis provides insights into adaptation strategies that may be effective in the future, revolving around incremental (e.g. small changes in current management) and more transformational (e.g. altered species choice) management changes. It points to areas where knowledge is limiting and where existing trials and research may be exploited to advance our understanding of plantation management in more variable climates. It discusses the role of adaptive management in improving the decision-making capacity of the forest industry in the face of uncertainties associated with changing climate.