Forest health based scenario building as an accessible tool for climate change management in Bruce Peninsula National Park
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The global climate is changing; there are many predictions about the ecological impacts, and even more uncertainty. Predicted ecological impacts include northward shifting biomes, invasive species, decoupling of biotic interactions, all of which are threats to the ecological integrity (EI) of Canada’s National Parks System. To maintain EI, parks must be managed for resilience with climate change in mind. Lack of human and financial resources are restrictions to managing for climate change, challenges exacerbated by government cutbacks in 2012. To overcome these restrictions a tool for informing management in a climate was designed using an existing research program and management based scenario building at the case study location of Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP). The tool designed for informing management is called Scenario Building, which accounts for uncertainty and focuses on the essential drivers of the local ecological community. Diversity and health in the forest community are essential drivers in the BPNP ecosystem with interactions at many tropic levels so the forest health research program was selected as the basis for scenarios. Results show a range of tree species that require a variety of soil and moisture regimes. Understanding the ecology of the keystone forest species allows for understanding of how they may reacted to predicted climate changes. Regional climate predictions based on the A2 and B1 primary climate scenarios of the IPCC were integrated with the forest health data, and two levels management option- passive and active to develop 4 scenarios that can inform management of the park. Passive and active management were defined by the number of dollars spent on active management. The 4 scenarios developed were: Scenario 1 B1 Passive Management - Status Quo, Scenario 2 B1 Active Management - Regional Resilience, Scenario 3 A2 Passive Management - Evolving Forests, Scenario 4 A2 Active Management- Anticipatory Restoration. A set of scenarios allows managers to set a management trajectory balances resilience and EI with economic viability in the face of climate change. Analysis of the BPNP scenario suite tell us that BPNP is one park that is in a good position to be able to adapt to a changing climate without major risk to EI, however significant steps can be taken to minimize losses or even improve EI by anticipating needs and investing in active management.