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treehugger's podcast

where we re-imagine ecological restoration, promising a brighter future for human livelihoods and health as well as a just transition in a warming world.

Feb 26, 2020

Finally, an episode about forests. And climate. My guest Dr. Sally Aitken delivers a nuanced discussion that embraces the complexity of how climate has and will continue to drive change in our beloved long-lived tree species and plant communities.

Sally Aitken is currently a Professor and Associate Dean, Research and Innovation, in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia. In 2001, Aitken helped start the Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics at UBC. Broadly, she studies the population, conservation, and ecology of forests. More specifically she is deeply involved in large-scale multi-institutional, applied genomics project that use population genomics, common garden experiments and climate-mapping technologies to help guide reforestation decisions for new climates.

As restorationists we make decisions about which plant seeds and other propagules to introduce to the land, or in some cases, the sea to assist the natural processes for ecosystem recovery. This episode is a a primer on the response adaptation strategies that exist that allow ecosystems to adapt to the changing climates they are bound to experience. 

Resources to explore that we mentioned

Center for Forest Conservation Genetics and CoAdapTree Project: Healthy trees for future climates

British Columbia Provincial webpage on “Climate-Based Seed Transfer,” this is replete with updates as late as 2019, video presentations and fact sheets on their science-based policy 

United States Forest Service Seedlot Selection Tool in the Climate Change Resource Center. Initial conceptualization and development was done by Glenn Howe, Brad St. Clair and Ron Beloin.

The Walrus from December 2015 "Run, Forest, Run: Helping trees flee climate change"

Scientific American from August 2015 "How to Move a Forest of Genes"

Twitter/ @SallyNAitken

Thanks for listening. See you in the woods.