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Local Vegetation is Adapting to Climate Change

Home > Market News > Tom’s Blog > Local Vegetation is Adapting to Climate Change

Western Red Cedar, Arbutus and now Salal are being affected

  • Photograph of Tom Whitfield
  • Parksville Qualicum Beach REALTOR®
  • Published: May 15th, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Climate Change - Trees & Vegetation

Salal too, is showing signs of stress and appears to be dying back along exposed roadways where conditions are especially dry. 

Forests are in the process of re-organizing themselves to a new set of conditions. About 15 years ago while kayaking in the Gulf Islands I noticed that both young and old Arbutus trees appeared to be dying. A forest pathologist suggested that due to changing temperatures the Arbutus had likely become more susceptible to a fungus which was causing mortality as evidenced by blackened foliage. Locally, Arbutus are at the northernmost limit of their natural range extending to southern California and so are especially sensitive to change. Now, after having experienced 3 summers of drought, Western red cedar trees are in the process of adapting. 

Cedars prefer moist soil conditions and some are showing signs of stress, especially along harsh south-facing roadside edges, where droughty conditions already existed. Some household hedges are also showing signs of moisture stress. 

With more intense disturbances during winter, strong winds, wet snow and heavy rains have caused physical damage to trees. Whole trees, tops and branches have come down particularly over the past few winters. 

This past December 20th, 2018 we experienced dramatic winds which blew down many trees and knocked out power to some regions of Vancouver Island for days. 

We can likely expect another summer of drier than usual conditions coming up in 2019, so remember to water your trees, especially those cedars.

Tom Whitfield RPF (Ret)

(That stands for Registered Professional Forester - Retired)

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