In the past year, almost a third of British Columbia’s total exports consisted of wood and paper products, bringing in close to $9 billion. The government has then put all its efforts in transplanting 250,000 larch seedlings up to 200 miles outside the species’ native range, resulting in the largest plant assisted-migration in history. Experts predicted that previous habitats of the trees will become derelict and are therefore trying to save the future of the larch and other trees by relocating them and in the process trying to boost the economy of British Columbia.
This action has been taken because of the negative effects of climatic changes on forests in the area. Mountain pine beetles, summer droughts and extremely cold winters, have contributed to the destruction of millions of acres of forest across the American and Canadian West. The Canadian government, from a report released, predicts that the summer droughts will become longer and more frequent in future. Recent studies show that the rate of tree mortality has increased four times since the 1970s across the Pacific Northwest; with 1.3 percent of trees in old forests dying annually.
The relocation of the larch species came about after research done by Jim Snetsinger through the Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative. Jim Snetsinger is British Columbia’s chief forester. The research was done to establish the action forestry managers should react to global warming. Experts predicted that the climatic changes will later slowly push the margin of the tree’s range northwest and in high altitude areas like hillsides due to the moist and cool soils. The western-larch was picked to test if the migration of the species would decrease the mortality rate. Risks involved include the tree displacing the indigenous species or dying off. The forest ministry is now planting groups of 15 other timber species in new areas to test them against the climate change.