The potential contribution of the BC forest sector to climate change mitigation

Werner A. Kurz, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada and PICS Forest Carbon Management Project
January 18, 2017 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm


University House 1, UVic
2489 Sinclair Rd.,
Victoria , BC

The Forest Carbon Management Project of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) is quantifying the potential contribution of British Columbia’s forest sector to climate change mitigation. The project is addressing three related research themes: (1) the biophysical mitigation potential including costs and socio-economic indicators, (2) the impacts of climate change on forest dynamics and the design of climate change mitigation strategies that are informed by those anticipated impacts, and (3) the policy, institutional and financing aspects of the implementation of mitigation strategies. The project involves experts from BC Universities, the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, and the Canadian Forest Service. The analyses are based on a systems approach that takes into consideration carbon storage and fluxes in forest ecosystems, harvested wood products and changes in emissions associated with changes in the amount of wood products used to substitute for other emissions-intensive products and fossil fuels. Tools and models deployed in the analyses are both well-established models used to report Canada’s forest sector GHG emissions and new tools developed for the project.

Phase 1 of the project has identified mitigation portfolios involving actions in both forest management and the forest product sector that, if implemented soon, can achieve cumulatively over 400 Mt CO2 emission reductions by 2050. The domestic mitigation in the best portfolio could contribute 35% of BC’s GHG emission reduction target by 2050 at less than $100/tCO2e and with additional socio-economic benefits. Analyses of impacts on forest dynamics resulting from climatic and environmental changes over the past decades emphasize the regional and species-specific differentiation in positive and negative tree responses ranging from substantial growth enhancements to large reductions in growth rates, often associated with increased mortality rates. An analysis of policy constraints on carbon- focused forest management has been published and a stakeholder consultation process has been initiated to explore the public acceptance and potential support for forest-sector based climate change mitigation strategies.

While the potential for climate change mitigation through activities in BC’s forests sector appears large, none of this can be achieved without (1) significant investments in support of climate change mitigation actions, (2) ongoing scientific exploration of the mitigation actions and monitoring of their outcomes, and (3) the public support for forest-sector based climate change mitigation actions.

This event is hosted by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium.