Canada’s Trees in Growing Trouble

Almost One-quarter of Tree Species Now at Risk

By: “Wildlife Conservation Society Canada”

Almost one in four Canadian tree species is now at risk according to a new assessment of data from NatureServe Canada and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

“For a country so closely identified with forests, this is alarming news,” says Dan Kraus who led the assessment for Wildlife Conservation Society Canada as part of its ongoing SHAPE of Nature initiative.

Threats ranging from introduced pests and diseases to the rapidly growing impacts of climate change and land development are threatening to profoundly reshape the diversity of tree species in Canada’s forests.  Of the 57 tree species at risk in Canada, half are also considered globally imperiled.

Whether it is white ash in the urban forest that are declining because of the introduced emerald ash or high-alpine Yukon lodgepole and whitebark pine that are being squeezed out of the landscape by climate change, threats to trees are widespread and growing.

“There are still many actions we can all take to help protect the diversity of Canada’s trees – from increasing the diversity of species in tree planting projects and stopping the spread of invasive species to identifying Key Biodiversity Areas that harbor our most imperiled trees.” Kraus points out.

With 234 species of trees, Canada has rich arboreal diversity, but this diversity has taken an especially hard hit in places like southern Ontario and southern BC where forest clearing has left only tattered patches of woodlands. These are also some of the most “tree diverse” regions of the country.

“Trees are important to people in a multitude of ways beyond just being a source of products like maple syrup or lumber,” Kraus points out.  “They cool our urban areas, clean our air, filter our water and stabilize our soils. Just as importantly, being in the presence of trees makes us healthier both physically and mentally as a number of studies have now shown.”

There are lots of ways we can help trees.

  • Protecting rare species by using them to designate Key Biodiversity Areas.
  • Replanting a wide variety of native species.
  • Supporting work to collect genetic material from trees that are more resistant to pests and pathogens.
  • Thinking about how to help trees adapt to climate change, including by planting species outside their existing ranges and protecting climate refugia areas.

by Editor

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023 at 14:56
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