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The opportunities

As CO2 is the main fuel for photosynthesis, our forests are likely to become more productive in the long term. Marginal soils, particularly in the clay belt of northeastern Ontario, may become more productive, where drought is not a limiting factor, as the rate of litter decomposition may rise with rising temperatures.

(Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)

(Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)

The threats

Existing forest species will have to decline and die before new species, better suited to the altered climate, can get established. Until this new equilibrium is established, forests will undergo a period of significant disruption. As a result, the way we manage these resources and the wildlife they support will need to be adjusted.

As with agriculture, the health and productivity of our forests are intricately linked to climate. Because trees have such long life cycles, forests are particularly vulnerable to long-term change. There will be both opportunities and threats for forests in different regions of the province.

Forests will also be subject to more frequent, extreme storms and wind damage, greater stress due to drought, and more frequent and severe fire and insect disturbances.

Did you know?

Although most communities that depend entirely on the forest industry are in the north, thousands of jobs in southern Ontario also depend on forest products such as paper, lumber, and firewood.

(Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)

(Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)

Did you know?

Every year in Ontario, about 1500 forest fires destroy over 290 000 hectares of forest.

Effects of climate change on forests and forestry


Colombo, S.J. and Buse, L.J. (ed.), 1998: The impacts of climate change on Ontario's forests; Ontario Forest Research Institute, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Forest Research Information Paper Number 143.

Our forests