By Jim Cooperman
In 2031, after a decade of ever-increasing impacts on society due to rapidly warming climate, it is incumbent on all levels of government to change the way land management is managed, which includes water, soils, biodiversity and forests.
The following decade was a period of transition, as decision-making was transferred to local communities rather than to distant bureaucrats. The primary goals of forestry have become carbon sequestration, watershed protection, and ecosystem health, rather than wood and fiber. Logging has ended and there has been a social consensus to conserve and expand forests to help mitigate climate change.
The loss of lives and homes to wildfires has resulted in intensive forest management near communities, which includes the development of fire-resistant stands and the conversion of coniferous forests to forests mixed with deciduous trees. While electrical machinery does much of the work, Canada’s Earth Corps, made up of young people as part of their education and public service, do most of the physical work.
As the number of fires continued to rise, property damage decreased, with firefighting becoming a high priority. Wildfires are now put out quickly thanks to high-tech satellite detection, locally stationed aircraft, drones and Earth Corps firefighters.
The key to this success is the contribution of improved water management. Almost every creek in the region has a series of run-of-river reservoirs that capture spring runoff, which varies greatly due to climatic instability. In addition to firefighting, the stored water is used for human consumption, agriculture and aquaculture.
Adaptation efforts include intensive inventory work on the ground, as well as regular monitoring of forest conditions. Forest stewardship professionals follow comprehensive ecosystem standards to protect and restore ecological integrity and live in communities near the forests they manage. Particular attention is paid to watershed management to meet community water needs and to help prevent flooding and landslides. Silvicultural practices ensure that burned areas are protected from damage by salvage logging and replanted as soon as possible with native trees adapted to the higher temperatures and long droughts caused by the climate crisis.
Local management means that decisions are made by both indigenous and local communities, while adhering to global ecosystem-based standards. The overall goal is for forests to grow as long as possible under uneven-aged mixed-species management, to maintain healthy forests that absorb the most carbon dioxide, while developing systems to better cope with more diseases and pests.
The only timber harvested comes from ecological restoration and thinning activities for fire resistance. All wood is used locally for construction, with any excess shipped within the province. In a few decades, mixed forests will provide options for small-scale extraction of conifers and hardwoods ready for harvest, using innovative processing systems.
Some forests are also managed for food production using ancient indigenous techniques. Berries, mushrooms and some native plants are harvested to augment local agriculture.
As sea levels rose and flooded coastal areas, including major cities, people were forced to leave the coastal areas for the interior of the province. To meet the increased demand for housing, tracts of suitable public land have been opened up for development and logging roads have been upgraded to provide access to new communities.
Recognizing that climate change mitigation must include biodiversity protection, intensive ecosystem-based conservation planning has identified networks of terrestrial and aquatic areas that are protected for water conservation, wildlife habitat , cultural activities and/or recreational use.
With air travel restrictions in place around the world, Shuswap vacations have become the norm given that there are plenty of carbon-free leisure options. Other trails were built throughout the Shuswap, some of which provided options for multi-day hikes and bike tours.
The overall goal of land management in 2052 is to conserve, restore and protect biodiversity, water, soil and healthy natural forests, all in an effort to promote resilience. Additionally, efforts are increasing to better understand the rapid changes taking place as the planet continues to warm. With extreme weather events now the norm, there is an urgent need to develop new ways to help forests adapt and to develop technologies and systems to prepare for and cope with what is expected to be a much warmer future climate. intense and potentially deadly.
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