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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry

Issue 10 - Evidence, February 25, 2003 - Morning meeting


EDMONTON, Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 8:34 a.m. to examine and report on the impact of climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities and the potential adaptation options focusing on primary production, practices, technologies, ecosystems and other related areas.

Senator Donald H. Oliver (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: I am pleased to welcome everyone here to the hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry in Edmonton.

During the course of our last study, which was called ``Farmers at Risk,'' the committee found environmental stresses to be such a pressing issue in agriculture and in rural Canada that it decided to undertake a comprehensive study on the effects of climate change in agriculture.

The committee is examining the expected effects of climate change on Canadian agriculture, forests, and rural communities. More importantly, it will consider how these sectors can adapt to the expected climate changes.

The committee is required to report before the end of 2003, but we expect to have our report by June or, at the very, very latest, July of 2003.

During our trip in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, we will hear from scientists, farmers, and many other interested groups on our topic, ``Adaptation to Climate Change.''

I am happy that we are in Alberta today, because Alberta has aspects of all three things we are studying: agriculture, forestry, and issues of rural communities.

The study of climate change must reflect both the values and diversity of our country. We need a made-in-Canada plan to resolve issues of adaptation, and it must be based on principles of innovation and competitiveness.

Today, I wish to also welcome to our committee Senator Thelma Chalifoux from Alberta. I must say that since Senator Chalifoux has come to Ottawa, she has brought a lot of positive ideas and has been a very strong representative of this province. So Alberta should be proud of the contribution she continues to make.

The other senator with us today for the first time, because he was hung up because of the snow and problems, is Senator Laurier LaPierre, a well-known Canadian who brings creative and innovative ideas to the whole concept of agriculture and forestry.

We are now ready to start this morning's program. I am pleased to welcome officials from Natural Resources Canada. I understand that there has been a change in the program and Mr. Boyd Case is not here. Mr. Kelvin Hirsch is sitting in for him.

The floor is yours, Mr. Hirsch.

Mr. Kelvin Hirsch, Forest Research Officer, Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada: Before I begin this morning, I would like to extend greetings and apologies from Mr. Boyd Case, the Director General of the Northern Forestry Centre. Unfortunately, Boyd was ill all last week, has lost his voice, is unable to speak and regrets being unable to participate today.

Therefore, it is my pleasure to make this presentation on behalf of Mr. Case and the entire scientific and technical staff at the Northern Forestry Centre.

I am currently a research management advisor at NoFC, and prior to that, I conducted forest fire research with the Canadian Forest Service, CFS, for 17 years.

I would also like to introduce Dr. Brian Amiro and Mr. Tim Williamson who are researchers at our centre and have a wide range of knowledge on both the ecological and socio-economic aspects of climate change in forests. They have agreed to assist me with any questions that may arise during the discussion period.

So I would like to draw your attention to the presentation, and I believe you have a copy in front of you. I would like to begin by expressing our thanks to the committee for the opportunity to converse with you about forest-relevant climate change impacts and adaptation research being conducted at the Northern Forestry Centre.

Based on the notes I have reviewed from previous sessions that you have had, it is clear that you have heard some excellent presentations on the potential impacts of climate change and the possible implications for the forest sector and forest-based communities.

Therefore, I will not go into great detail about the impact side, but instead, I will focus on the research activities at our centre to illustrate how we are contributing to both the impacts and adaptation science in support of sustainable forest management.

The presentation will begin with a few introductory remarks about the Northern Forestry Centre and the history of our climate change research program. I will then focus on the impacts and adaptation research currently being conducted at the centre and some of the key findings. This will be followed by a short description of the model forest program, and I will finish off with a few concluding remarks.

The mission of the Northern Forestry Centre is to conduct research, transfer knowledge, and coordinate programs that promote environmental stewardship and the economic competitiveness of Canada's forest sector. The Northern Forestry Centre was established in 1970 and is one of five CFS research centres across Canada. Currently we have a staff of approximately 200 individuals, of which just over half are indeterminate employees.

Our A-base operating funding per scientist averages about $10,000 per year. Therefore, to achieve our program objectives, a significant amount of funding, about $4 million per year, is obtained from outside sources, such as other government departments and collaborative research agreements with our primary clients.

Research is conducted on a wide variety of forest-related topics, including climate change. The Northern Forestry Centre was one of the first forest research organizations to initiate a climate change program. This occurred in 1985, long before ``climate change'' was a household phrase.

The current focus of our climate change program has two aspects: first, looking at carbon accounting, modelling, and mitigation; and second, looking at climate change impacts and adaptation.

By way of resources, we have 21 full-time equivalents, that is, both scientists and support staff conducting climate change research. Their operating budget is in excess of $1 million per year, the majority of which is obtained from external funding sources. Of these resources, two-thirds of the staff and about 40 per cent of the funding is targeted towards impacts and adaptation projects.

A key aspect of the success of our climate change program is close collaboration with researchers from other CFS forestry centres, other government departments, universities, and other research organizations.

I would now like to speak about the current impacts and adaptation research activities at the Northern Forestry Centre. Work is being conducted in four main areas. The first area involves assessing and monitoring change. This includes investigating the impact of climate change on forest health and productivity, collecting baseline data on forest productivity over a range of climatic zones, analyzing changes in forest fire activity across Canada, and monitoring variations in insect infestation, specifically in the Prairie Provinces.

Climate Change Impacts on the Productivity and Health of Aspen, CIPHA, is an example of an assessment and monitoring change study. This project involves detailed measurements at 72 permanent sample plots located across western Canada to study the effects of climate and forest insects on the growth and survival of aspen.

It also allows for the early detection of climate change effects, because many sites are located at the edge of forest transition zones and, therefore, will be the first to be affected by changes in the climate.

Two of the early key results of this study are that aspen growth can vary considerably across the region from year to year, and aspen growth and survival are lowest when insect outbreaks, in this case, forest tent caterpillar, occur in conjunction with a severe drought or dry spell. Separately, the two factors do have an impact, but it is considerably less than when the two events happen in combination.

The second area of research at our centre focuses on estimating the future impacts of climate change. In collaboration with other CFS centres and universities, we are taking a leading role in projecting future forest fire activity under a changing climate and the possibility of significant impacts on key values at risk.

We are also studying the impacts of forests on regional climates, as well as the effects of climate change on vegetation, particularly species composition, species shifting, growth and yield, and ultimately, on timber supply.

An example of the potential natural changes in vegetation have been modeled at our centre by linking future climate data from the Canadian general circulation model to a dynamic vegetation model known as the integrated biosphere simulator, IBIS. This is an image of the current model vegetation cover for Canada. When I move to the next two slides, you will note some major shifts. In particular, I would ask you to watch this area here in Western Canada.

In this slide you can see that by 2040, you can begin to see an increase in the amount of grassland and open shrub land in the southern boreal forest. The projections by 2070 suggest an even greater shift in vegetation, which could significantly reduce the size of the boreal forest. A warmer climate in eastern Canada, however, could favour higher growth rates associated with the temperate forests.

Please recognize, however, that the present model still has a number of limitations and uncertainties. For instance, the IBIS model does not presently incorporate factors such as soil nitrogen, which may be a key limiting factor that will offset the benefits of increased CO2 and warmer temperatures. Further research involving other climate models and vegetation simulators is therefore being conducted in an attempt to reduce the degree of uncertainty about these projections.

The third area of research at our centre deals with climate change adaptation strategies. Given that the potential impacts of climate change to the western boreal forest could be quite severe, our researchers have, over the last few years, begun to focus more of their effort on finding new and innovative ways to adapt to such changes.

The three main areas of study include finding new silvicultural options and innovations, finding approaches to reduce the risk from wildfire, and finding techniques to minimize the effects of forest pests.

I would now like to give you three adaptation examples. With respect to reforestation and afforestation opportunities, a comprehensive set of trials has been established at various locations in western Canada to compare the growth, survival, form, and wood quality of hybrid poplar clones.

For example, last year 100,000 seedlings were planted in 15 different locations. Initial results from the concurrent trials for the 12 different poplar clones tested suggest some minor variation does exist in performance between these tree species. Also, adequate moisture during the first few weeks of planting seems to be the most critical to the successful establishment of plantations.

The second example of adaptation research deals with proactively preparing for more forest fire activity in the future. Our researchers have collaborated with other municipal, provincial, and federal organizations to synthesize the most recent scientific information into a guidebook that can be used to reduce the risk from wildfire to homes and communities.

In cooperation with provinces, forest industry, and universities, development and evaluation of a related concept known as ``FireSmart forest management'' is also underway. This involves strategically integrating fire and forest- management activities to reduce the overall flammability of forest landscapes through actions such as harvest scheduling, cut-block design, reforestation, and stand tending.

The third example of an adaptation project involves the development of innovative pest-management techniques to reduce the likelihood and severity of insect attacks. There are two specific studies. The first found that the use of BT, a biological control agent, would reduce the stress of white spruce resulting from spruce budworm outbreaks.

The second study is a major field program in northwestern Alberta that suggests the intensity and pattern of forest harvesting can significantly reduce spruce budworm populations. For example, they have found that cut blocks with jagged edges and 25 per cent removal seems to be the best treatment to limit spruce budworm outbreak.

The fourth area of impacts and adaptation research at the Northern Forestry Centre involves the social sciences. We are fortunate to have one of the core groups of social scientists within the forest sector at our centre. In the climate change field, work has focussed on the vulnerability and adaptability of forest-based communities.

There are three components to this work. The first is determining the level of understanding the community leaders and the general public have about the local impacts of climate change. Second, using available information about forest-dependent communities, it appears possible to identify those communities that are most vulnerable to climate change. Third, the social science group is assessing what changes may be needed to current policies and institutions to promote and/or facilitate adaptation by forest-based communities.

Shifting gears slightly, I was asked to include in my presentation some comments about the model forest program. The model forest was established in the early 1990s. There are currently 11 model forests across Canada, including three in the Prairie Provinces: the Manitoba model forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, the Prince Albert model forest north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and the foothills model forest in the Hinton/Jasper area of western Alberta.

The purpose of the model forest program is to apply and, in some cases, develop new technologies, systems, approaches, and knowledge regarding sustainable forest management. The program received significant funding from the Canadian Forest Service, but each model forest also obtained support and guidance from a wide range of local stakeholders. Regarding climate change, the interest in this issue for the model forests has grown considerably in the last one to two years.

Currently, the prairie-based model forests are involved in projects aimed at modelling the impact of climate change on growth and yield, measuring and monitoring the carbon flux from forests, and evaluating the potential applications of the CFS carbon budget model at the scale of a forest management agreement area.

The model forest program is completing year one of its third five-year phase. This phase is very much focused on the application and demonstration of science.

To conclude, the climate change has been a specific focus of research activities at the Northern Forestry Centre since the mid-1980s. As you are well aware, many of the future climate scenarios suggest that continental Canada could be one of the areas most affected by climate change, and this has some significant implications for the forests of western Canada.

This includes direct influences on the forest itself through increases on forest fire activity, severity of insect and disease outbreaks, changes and, most likely, reductions in growth and yield of forest species in western Canada, potential shifting of vegetation, and increased competition from invasive and exotic species.

This, in turn, will have implications for the forest sector such as reductions in timber supply and changes to forest practices, influences on non-timber forest products and services, increased challenges associated with the management of protected areas and wilderness, and secondary effects on both water and air quality. All of this will have subsequent impacts on the viability and sustainability of forest-based communities.

Therefore, our centre is focusing its impacts and adaptation research efforts on three areas: reducing the uncertainty regarding the future impacts of climate change on forests, developing and testing adaptation strategies, and linking our ecological and social science expertise so that we can address climate change issues in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

Senator Wiebe: I would like to direct my first remarks to slide 17 and 18, the model forest program. On slide 18, you say that most extreme changes in climate are expected in the extreme western boreal forest region of Canada.

Since we have started this study, we have heard some impressive presentations regarding the model forest program. While you have 11 established across Canada — it works out to 1.1 per province — where the most extreme changes are going to take effect is in western Canada.

The feeling is that we should be establishing more model forest areas throughout the western region because, in my mind at least, they seem to be spread far too thin, and the valuable data that is being learned at these model forest areas can have quite an impact on how we adapt to the changes in the future. What is your feeling on that? Are the three in western Canada doing an adequate job? They are doing an adequate job, but can it be done better by having more model stations established?

Mr. Hirsch: The model forest program is unique in that it is beginning to expand, so the three model forests that we see are now moving beyond their physical boundaries to include areas of different ecoregions in the three prairie provinces.

For instance, in Manitoba, even though the original model forest was on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, they have now incorporated the Duck Mountain, Porcupine Hills region of western Manitoba. As well, the foothills model forest in western Alberta is now doing studies in other parts of Alberta as well.

So they are trying to, again, take the science from their particular study area and move it beyond. I believe that the three we have now are working well and transferring information and getting research on the ground. By working in collaboration with other companies and stakeholders, that information is spreading. So I would say they are doing a good job, and represent well the differences across the three Prairie Provinces.

Senator Wiebe: That is good to hear. You, of course, would have a much better idea on that effectiveness than most of us would.

The majority of the work so far that has been done regarding the mitigation of climate change and also the small amount of work that has been done on how we are going to adapt is partly because we do not have the knowledge yet as to how we are going to adapt.

We must somehow involve the general public in the adaptation, because they, in the long term, are going to be the ones that are going to be putting the pressure on the elected representatives to initiate the change as required. In your mind, what kind of incentives should we, as policy-makers, be looking at to develop policy that would involve more of the general public in the climate change and adaptation procedures?

Part of the reason why I say this is in the last couple of years, all the debate and discussion has been around Kyoto and how we are going to resolve that problem. If we start burning ethanol and things like this, the problem is going to go away; we have solved it.

What the scientists have told us, of course, is that even if every country in the world decided to go along with Kyoto, the damage has already been done, that we may slow down that rapid change, and that really we have to start concentrating on adaptation. So in your gentlemen's minds, how is the best way to get the general public involved in that discussion?

Mr. Hirsch: Senator, I am going to ask Mr. Tim Williamson, who is a social scientist, to address that question.

Mr. Tim Williamson, Sustainable Development Economist, Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service: I think maybe one of the big questions with the public is there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the issue and the long-term impacts, as you have noted. Maybe an important thing to do is to address that issue, those programs of awareness and getting into communities and having people in those communities involved and identifying the problems.

There are various kinds of frameworks for doing that, various kinds of risk-assessment frameworks. Greg McKinnon with the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network, C-CIARN, will discuss some of the issues about increasing awareness among people in communities and increasing the level of knowledge and understanding among the people in the communities so they are in a better position to begin thinking about planning and preparing for climate change and getting ready to adapt.

Senator Wiebe: As you know, even with all its warts, we still have the best system of government anywhere in the world. The problem is, if we leave it to our elected representatives to spread that message, you are going to have two or three different positions on how severe or not severe that is.

So to bring that dialogue to the community, would it be better for individuals such as yourselves or other people who are knowledgeable in the industry to present that message to our communities rather than the various groups that will have diverging views on the problem?

Mr. Williamson: I think there is a strong role for linking the research community with practitioners and stakeholders at a community level. There is a strong sense that the science is there and the capability is there to start looking at local- level impacts. It is a question of getting resources into play so we can start focusing and bringing that larger level research down to a community level and making the link with people in communities.

Senator Wiebe: One of the keys is financial resources, is it not?

Senator Hubley: My first question is, who owns the forest? How is it broken down between private and public?

Mr. Hirsch: The vast majority of forest in Canada is Crown land, and it is managed by the provincial governments and/or the territorial governments. They have primary responsibility.

There are areas that would grow trees, which could be private lands. There are private woodlots, but they are a small portion of forest in western Canada. In eastern Canada, the Atlantic Provinces, there are more private woodlots than out here in western Canada, but the vast majority of Canada's total forest is Crown land.

Senator Hubley: Then I would like to move to forest management for a moment. We do not experience many severe forest fires, but we do watch when the forest fire season hits the western provinces. In your adaptation strategies, what sort of management practices are you introducing to lessen, perhaps, the impact of forest fires now? How do you handle the situation after a severe forest fire? Is there any change in how that is going to be handled in the future?

Mr. Hirsch: I will address that one, and maybe Brian can add some points.

One thing we have found is that traditional approaches to forest fire suppression that you see on television and that we know about are water bombers, helicopters and initial attack crews. Those traditional approaches to fire suppression are reaching their limit of physical effectiveness.

So we have said you can buy more resources, but there is diminishing marginal returns. You have to think smarter, and that is where the term ``FireSmart'' came from. Over the next 50 years, a large portion of the boreal forest, or most of Canada's forests, will be harvested and replanted, and we are wondering if there are ways to do that in a strategic manner that can reduce the flammability.

Because we know certain forest species are more flammable than others — and we are not talking about doing a widespread conversion of the entire forest — we are looking at particular points on the landscape so that you can reduce the rate of spread and intensity of forest fires. Also, we are looking at those points where you can significantly improve the effectiveness of our current suppression tools.

We have done research with some companies, and they are beginning to implement these programs. So it can go from simple techniques of how they design their cut blocks and where they determine their cut at certain times, to the type of species they replant.

It is the idea of planning ahead and being proactive rather than simply reacting to fire, and realizing that fire is a natural part of the ecosystem. It is there. It needs to be there for many species to maintain forest health, but you need to strike a balance between these socio-economic impacts and the ecological benefits of fire.

We are doing a proactive approach with forest companies, but also forest-based communities can take actions to protect themselves. In our opinion, there should be very, very few lost homes from forest fires, because you can take actions ahead of time to prevent those kinds of losses.

Mr. Brian D. Amiro, Research Scientist, Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service: I would just like to add a couple of things. One specific way of adapting is salvaging burnt wood, as far as the timber companies go. That is something we have seen increase over the last ten years. It is widespread through Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairie Provinces.

Of course, it mostly relates to fires that burn in the south where we have the road network already, but it does help to alleviate some of those impacts. So we have seen companies moving more towards trying to adjust to those changes in the land base.

The other point, which Kelvin was alluding to, is that when we think about fire, we think about ignitions. What causes the fire? About a third of our fires are caused by lightning. Even though we do the Smokey the Bear routine, we still have a lot of these lightning fires. They burn about 85 per cent of the area. So they are the big ones.

Then we have fire weather, which is important. We think the climate change issue, of course, is just making things worse, which is what we are worried about. So we cannot do a lot about ignition, probably; weather is going to get worse. What we have been talking about is modifying the fuel. Fire still needs fuel to burn, and we think we can do fuel modifications to adapt to what those potential impacts are going to be, or lessen the impacts, at least.

Senator Hubley: How important is accurate weather forecasting going to be in your work?

Mr. Amiro: The Canadian Forest Service has a national map on the Web site that gives fire weather indices that show what the risk is every day.

The provinces also do — every agency does that for their own area. So we have different levels in Canada, and it is straight public knowledge done every day. Forecasts are good. We know when the risks are there. People are prepared. It is just a matter of whether something happens — lots of lightning is caused and comes through there — and how many fires start maybe that day. In Alberta, on some days, you can have 10,000 lightning hits. It is amazing how many lightning hits are out there.

The Chairman: In one day?

Mr. Amiro: In one day, in one storm. The lightning is just everywhere out there. Of course, there is rain with most of that lightning, so we do not get the fire starting, but we get dry lightning. There is lots of potential for ignition.

Senator Hubley: The information on your weather comes from where?

Mr. Amiro: The Meteorological Service of Canada weather stations. We also have supplementary stations operated by the agencies. Every province has its own additional weather stations that fill in all the gaps. So it is a mixture.

Senator LaPierre: No one will honour me by saying that I know much about agriculture and forestry. The only reason that I wanted to be on this committee is because I am a historian. I know a lot about rural communities because our country was rural for such a long time in its history. My interest is in rural communities.

So therefore, Professor Williamson, I was interested in the merging of the social sciences and the humanities and all of these together in a kind of interdisciplinary matter. I even have a plan to use about 300 young people from universities to travel the length and breadth of the country to speak to communities about these matters and help them to get it out of their system what it is that they need to know. However, that is another matter.

I am interested in your FireSmart. Is that published?

Mr. Hirsch: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: Is it possible for the Chairman to have copies, because I think that would be very useful?

The Chairman: Is that possible?

Mr. Hirsch: I do not have a copy with me today, but we can certainly make it available, possibly even by the end of the day.

The Chairman: That would be wonderful.

I have two quick questions. You said that one of the things you are doing now is salvaging burnt wood, and I would like you to tell me more about that. If the fire has taken only a little bit of the bark, you can use the rest of the wood as lumber or timber or pulpwood or something like that?

Second, no one has ever talked about controlled burns, and since you are fire experts, I would like you to tell me a little bit about it. I do know that the Americans do it in their national parks all the time for several reasons. I would like you to speak about those two things, if you could please.

Mr. Amiro: Regarding the salvage, first of all, you are right. Most fires in Canada in the boreal zone are what we call crown fires. They burn all the fine material and the forest floor and the crowns of the canopies, but they leave the trunk of the trees behind, so the amount of char is actually superficial on most of those trees.

We also get fires that underburn, that do not actually char any of the tree. That is pretty rare in most of Canada. This makes the wood usable. However, the wood is only usable, typically, for one to two years, sometimes three years, largely because insects come in quickly. We have these insects that follow fires around, and they just burrow through it and make the quality go down.

So timber companies are using it, but generally it is a lower quality. There are a lot of economic issues associated with it as far as what they will pay for it, and also, it has to be someplace where the road network is. I do not know what percentage of our harvesting today is on burnt land. It really depends on where those fires occur. Sometimes in the south we can get a large fire, 100,000 hectares, in an area that they are actively harvesting, taking lumber out right now, and they will salvage that.

The Chairman: Is there much difference between hardwoods and softwoods? Do the softwoods burn farther and faster? Are the woods that you can harvest mostly hardwoods?

Mr. Amiro: Both can be salvaged, but the softwoods burn at a higher intensity, so a lot more material is lost. As far as the salvage situation goes, except for dead, standing trees, the live trees that were there are basically intact.

The Chairman: Controlled burns?

Mr. Amiro: The other issue is controlled burns. The controlled burn program is viable in most national parks in Canada. We have active controlled burning programs in the western mountain parks and also parks across the Prairie Provinces, for example, Prince Albert National Park and Riding Mountain National Park, in Manitoba.

Those are usually done for ecosystem management. They change the mosaic on the landscape, largely because wild fires have been suppressed in national parks over the last 100 years. We are trying to get fire back into those national parks and change that landscape so it will change the fuel continuity. It has lots of implications for things like insects. There are few prescribed burns scheduled outside of national parks in Canada right now, a few provincial parks, but it is not widely used on the bigger land base.

The Chairman: Do you think it is going to change and it will be used more in the future, particularly with climate change causing more threats?

Mr. Amiro: It is always a compromise with prescribed burning. Most harvesting companies would rather do fuel management using harvesting as opposed to using burning. So it would be a lot of education, a lot of changes in our culture, before we would actually get to the point where widespread prescribed fires would have much of an impact.

The Chairman: Thanks for a most excellent presentation, and we look forward to receiving your books.

We would now like to call Carol Patterson from Kalahari Management Inc.

Ms. Carol Patterson, President, Kalahari Management Inc.: I confess I am not a scientist, and I am not an expert on climate change, but I am an expert on ecotourism, which is what I have been asked to speak on today. I welcome the opportunity to talk about it, because it is relevant to climate change.

Just so you know a little bit about my background, I am an ecotourism consultant and a writer. I have been in the industry for over 12 years. When I started people thought I was an eco-terrorism consultant, not an ecotourism consultant. So last year was the International Year of Ecotourism, which was a validation that I am not insane and that we really do have a future as Canadians in ecotourism.

I do numerous workshops. I do a lot of work with communities across North America, similar to the ones we heard the previous speakers talk about. These communities are losing their economic base in terms of mining or forestry or agriculture, and they are turning toward nature tourism as another economic opportunity. So I work with these communities to try and identify the opportunities and how to develop businesses and destinations from those assets.

I have written the book called The Business of Ecotourism, which is in its second printing. I have done a teacher's edition. I am working on a manual for The Nature Conservancy for business planning and ecotourism in their Central and South American operations. I publish a quarterly newsletter on ecotourism management, which is a business-to- business publication that highlights developments in the industry at any current time.

That is available all on-line, not the book, but the newsletter, and my Web site is on my handout there, if you want to follow up on that.

Many people are not familiar with the term, ecotourism, or there is much confusion as to what it means. There are many, many different definitions, and there is no one accepted definition. In case you have not come across the term before, I would suggest to you that it is a form of tourism that promotes conversation of the natural environment in which it occurs.

It also promotes the economic and social well being of the host community where the travel experience occurs, and it provides a learning experience for the traveller. So it is a very ambitious form of tourism. Some would question how successful it has been, but we are seeing a lot more interest in it and a lot more development. I have been trying to limit my comments, so I will focus mainly on Alberta, which does not have a well-developed ecotourism industry at this point, but Canada as a nation certainly has potential in this area.

To move out of climate change, I was talking to my father, who lives in Regina, on the weekend about my presentation, and his comment was he is all for climate change if it will make the weather get better. He is just teasing, but he has lived in Saskatchewan for 81 years, and he has noticed a definite change in climate, and many of our tourism operators have as well. Like my father, they are not clamouring for more. Many of them wish things would improve.

We are finding that climate change is impacting most forms of nature tourism, not always for the best. We are finding wildlife populations not where we want them to be. We are noticing that we are having catastrophic events, which causes us great concern from a risk-management perspective. It has gotten to the point where now we are looking at some of our leading organizations, in this case, the World Tourism Organization, which is convening a conference on this topic in Tunisia this spring, in April.

The Chairman: Carol, could I just say there are people who are translating from English to French, and there are people who are transcribing. If you could slow down just a little bit, it will make it a lot easier for them, because we want to have an accurate record of what you are saying. There is no great rush. We are not going to cut you off.

Ms. Patterson: Okay. I have a tendency to hurry. There will be a conference held this spring, which, as I said, is a sign that this is becoming an issue of concern for many people around the world, not just for ecotourism, but for other forms of tourism as well.

The next slide would show that there are climate changes affecting operators. One of the first ones that maybe comes to mind is the lack of snow, and as Canadians, one of the things that defines us is our winter experience. What we are finding is that, even though we have had very cold weather recently, our winters are not what they used to be.

For example, dog sled operators require cold weather and snow to operate. There are operators in the northern part of this province that have had problems having enough snow to operate their business. You need certain temperatures so the dogs do not overheat, but you also need snow to run the sleds and to provide that perception, because it is not just a matter of actually moving the sled. You want the visitor to have that experience of the Canadian winter and the Canadian North. So we are finding that lack of snow is affecting these types of activities.

Conversely, in the summer we have a lack of water. So activities that are dependent on water runoff, say, whitewater kayaking or whitewater rafting, have insufficient water to perform those activities, or they may have sufficient, but not as long as they had in the past. Where they were able to run rivers for three months, they are running them for only one month. So they are finding they have less water than they had in the past.

This varies across the province. I am making generalizations. People in the north seem to be more impacted than those in, say, the Rockies and the Kananaskis Country and the Bragg Creek area.

We are also finding that the fire hazard and problems from forest fires are impacting recreation as well. When there are fire hazards, you have two things: sometimes an area is closed, where you are not physically able to go into it, which we found in Kananaskis Country two years back when the whole area was evacuated. Tour operators lost money because they were offering tours or had groups in the area that had to be evacuated or could not go in.

Just as the senator commented about how in the East you monitor the forest fire conditions out West, we found, in a study by the Outdoor Recreation Council in 2000, that hiking rates for the continent were down, which is contrary to what we would expect, because we are becoming more active and more interested in these outdoor experiences. The main explanation for it was the effect of the large fires that occurred in 2000, where it felt like much of the West was ablaze.

Again, it is not necessarily the actual risk. When we talk about tourism, a lot of times it is the perception. People will not come to the area if they feel that they are in danger or that they are not going to have the type of experience they want.

People going for an ecotourism experience are looking for natural areas. They are looking for scenic beauty. They are looking for a chance to get away from it. Choking in dust or smoke is not considered a good thing, so it will have a negative impact.

We find, too, that we are getting unseasonable weather conditions, and so it makes it very unpredictable. The lead- time for many tour operators, the bigger ones especially, may be 18 to 24 months where they develop a tour and put it out in a brochure. So you hope that if you are offering snowshoeing in January, you will have snow come January, or cross-country skiing. What we are finding, especially for operators around this southern area of the province, is they cannot count on that anymore.

When I talked to one operator before I made this presentation, she said, ``I get my best snow in April and May,'' which is when she wants to do the hiking, or when people have decided that is not what they want to do. The best hiking can be in January. Sometimes we have had droughts that extend into the fall, which make hiking when you would normally be skiing.

So what you find is the spring wild flower hike done in snow, the summer wild flower hike done in snow, the Labour Day weekend done in snow, and unseasonable conditions which make it hard to undertake the activity. Sometimes you can change locations. Sometimes you can have people bring their snowshoes instead of their skis, or their hiking boots instead of their snowshoes, but it can be a challenge, especially if we are selling into foreign markets.

If you sell into the Japanese or the German markets, they are concerned that what you advertise is what you deliver, and so there can be legal liability issues. If you promise a certain activity, and you do not deliver, it can lead to problems.

We also find that, with the climate change, we are seeing impacts on wildlife. Alberta is not known as a wildlife- watching destination per se. You would probably find that more, say, in the Churchill area in Manitoba or the whale watching off the B.C. coast, but what we are finding is animals and birds are not where you expect them to be, in the numbers that you would expect to see them.

I worked on a project last winter for communities in Arkansas where they are the duck-hunting capital of the world, but the ducks are not leaving Canada. Where it is warm, they are stopping on their migration routes and not reaching down that far. The communities are looking at developing birdwatching as an option, because their hunting tourism is falling off.

So what we are finding is situations like that, where the wildlife is either not where we expect it, or in shorter numbers. That is causing concern for some of our operators.

As an aside, I know that you are looking carefully at the agricultural industry. That also impacts on some of the ecotourism operators, the use of horses. Not many ecotourism operators use the horse itself as transportation, but many of them use it as a way to get equipment, water and whatever, into their lodges. So the fact that hay prices are doubling has an impact on their costs in terms of what they are paying.

What are people doing to adapt to this? People that survive in the ecotourism industry are creative. You need to be able to think on your feet at the best of times, but for the ones that are dealing with climate change, those that have diversity tend to do the best, those that have a diverse product line or different locations. If I offer hiking, I can go to K Country one weekend, or if that is not going to work, to Bragg Creek or to Drumheller or something like that. I substitute a different activity, and that gives me some flexibility in terms of what I am doing.

Also, some organizations that have different flexibility in terms of their client base have more options. For somebody who is offering, say, a package for a corporate market, if they cannot do igloo building, they can probably do a ropes course to do some sort of team-building activity. However, if you are a whitewater raft operator or you are a dog sled operator and that is all you offer, you are in bad shape, because you may not have the same flexibility.

Some operators that have not got the diversity of product are trying to add interpretation. One rafting company that I know tries to offer games now or more interpretation of the landscape. Where it used to be more the thrills of the water as you would go down the river, now they are offering more interpretation or water fights, or something like that, to try and compensate for the fact that the water levels are not where they would be traditionally.

Sometimes people are operating for a shorter season. They may start a month later or finish a month sooner. They may hire their staff later and do their training later in the season, so it results in less economic activity for the community.

We are, as an industry, very safety conscious, but there is more emphasis on safety planning because we can see very unusual weather conditions — a freak flood or, as we saw recently, unfortunately, large avalanches. Those types of things mean that you have to be well prepared in terms of your safety management. That is another adaptation.

Some operators have a second income. They may do something else while they wait out the change. I know of one operator in the Cold Lake area running dog sleds. He kept his kennel for two years waiting for better weather, better snow. Eventually, he went out of business. He is now fighting forest fires. His kennel was not sustainable with the weather conditions he was facing in that situation.

Sometimes people increase their prices if they have additional costs as a result of this, like I say, the hay for horses. Some of them will eventually take advantage of the experiences and offer a different experience. I have not yet seen the drought and pestilence tour offered, but given the imagination I have seen in many of our tourism operators, I would not be surprised to see a summer grasshopper festival spring up, or something along those lines.

A longer-term impact that you may see may be a move to buy water. I know that there are cases in other countries where people have bought water to provide a whitewater experience. If we look at Australia, the whitewater rafting companies there spend $1 million a year to purchase water that would otherwise have been used for electricity generation.

In West Virginia, some tour operators partner with some of the hydro companies. The Tennessee water authority charges $2.50 a head to make up for the revenue that was lost for hydroelectricity by offering it to the recreationists instead.

Some of the tour operators I talked to did say, long term, they may not be around. They say those that have diversity and are able to come up with new ideas may be able to compensate in some ways. Others recognize that, in the long term, they may not be around, which leads to my conclusions.

As I mentioned before, tourism is very dynamic. The people that survive are used to dealing with change. Climate change is probably seen as one more hazard or one challenge that they will have to deal with. Unfortunately, many of them said they thought — and this is may be a bit pessimistic — that global political conditions or our insurance changes in Canada will get them first before the climate change does.

They were more concerned about insurance, some of the changes occurring with the Marine Liability Act that threaten their survival. One tour operator in the Grand Cache area said that a year ago there were 10 insurance companies in Canada offering insurance for their line of business. Now there are two, and it is getting to be very expensive and very difficult to get insurance.

So climate change is a threat, but they find some of these others more immediate and more frightening, especially as we face possible war. Those with the greatest amount of diversity are best suited to survive. Some operators had not thought about this issue until I asked them about it, but those that are thinking about it acknowledge that they will either have to come up with some changes, or long term, they may not be around. Some of them are noticing that they are getting one normal year out of five, which is not enough for many of them to build a business.

Ecotourism, for many of these areas, is an industry of small business. Often, it is an industry of rural business, so it tends to be seasonal. It is a tough way to make a living, although, as we say, it is a lifestyle and a very rewarding one, but it does have an impact.

Senator Chalifoux: A lot of people do not realize the ecotourism economic impact that it has on this whole thing. You brought that forward very, very well with an excellent presentation, and I would like to thank you for that.

I have a couple of questions. Number 1 is your World Tourism Organization: that conference affects the whole world, does it, when you discuss the climate change?

Ms. Patterson: What the World Tourism Organization does, its influence, is mainly with the policy makers. We have the tour operators, which tend to be smaller business when we talk ecotourism, not tourism in general. The World Tourism Organization has more influence with the policy-makers at government level, with the World Bank, with some of the other non-profit organizations like the World Wildlife Fund.

Those types of organizations would be discussing at a policy or philosophical level. The individual operator may not care as much, but it does have a trickle-down effect as legislators and decision-makers discuss these issues and find out, just as you are, what can be done or what is occurring.

Senator Chalifoux: Another thing, too, is — talking about economic impacts with global warming and climate change, especially here in western Canada and in Alberta — I think you realize and you have understood, that western Canada is going to be very seriously affected. It has been already. You know, our Snow Goose Festival is not on this year. They totally cancelled it because the geese did not show up, and that is what is happening out here.

I would like to know exactly what your businesses are doing in adapting. I understand that they are doing interpretive things, but when I want to go whitewater rafting, I am not going to go to an interpretive centre because there is no whitewater rafting. Are they being a little more creative in developing different challenges?

Ms. Patterson: Many of them are not on the second round. A lot of them are still getting into the industry, so they are developing, as you mentioned, the Snow Goose Festival, which is a perfect example of how many small communities rally around migration phenomena or a species that is unique. It can be very effective in terms of putting them on the map and creating awareness for people.

It is a challenge because you can create a whole experience, but you need something to work with. On the good side, some people have told me that only 50 per cent of the people that come to many of these festivals come for the actual migration. The other 50 per cent come to eat and to shop and to hang out and have fun with their friends or their family. So you can do a lot with a little, but you need a little to start with.

One other trend that has some promise is that one of the biggest, fastest-growing areas in ecotourism is insect watching.

The Chairman: Are you serious?

Ms. Patterson: Yes, I am, but it does not mean the mosquitoes of Winnipeg. People become interested in large mammals, gateway species. If you look at a flock of Snow Geese, you do not have to be an expert. They are easy to see. They are white. When you look at one bird and you look at the next hundred or thousand birds, they are all Snow Geese, so it is something that allows people entry into this whole field.

People start with something like a Snow Goose Festival, and then they get into the warblers, the dreaded warblers, difficult species, but they are moving now into insects, primarily dragonflies and butterflies.

There are some large festivals. Texas is leading the way in terms of nature tourism. They have got some excellent programs. So I joke about the grasshopper festival, but you are limited only by your imagination. You do have to have something to work with, but not as much as you might think. You do not have to have hundreds of caribou going by. That would be great, but you can work with something on a smaller scale.

Communities that are struggling need support. That is where people like me come in, that cross-fertilization of ideas — do not reinvent the wheel. Think of things that other places have tried and what can be done, and that is where programs, economic-development activities, can be very helpful, to give those communities as much help as you possibly can. I am not sure what it is going to look like 50 years out, but five years out, there are probably things that can be considered.

Senator Chalifoux: In view of global warming, and we all know it is happening, we have issues around the Kyoto accord, but it will not do anything to prevent global warming. In your industry, are they looking ahead to see exactly how they can readapt? It is fine and dandy for the snow sled tour guide, but is there something else?

I know that we did not have snow, so we used wagons, and it was wonderful. In Ottawa, the Winterlude has been a disaster. The Tulip Festival last year in Ottawa was a disaster. Here at home, and I live north of Edmonton, last year the whole summer was a disaster. In your industry, are they really looking ahead to see how they can adapt, because this is what is going to have to happen?

Ms. Patterson: The short answer is no. People are starting to look at it. This conference coming up is an indication that somebody out there is starting to wake up, that you cannot pretend it is not happening, and you cannot pretend it will go away. If you think about it, it is pretty scary in terms of what the long-term impacts are.

Unfortunately, we do not put a lot of resources into this type of strategizing. There is money in tourism for marketing — some money, some people would argue — but we do not spend the time thinking about it.

When I did my own informal survey in preparation for this presentation, most operators had not thought about it. They are aware that yes, the weather is different, and they have got something else to deal with, but are there industry committees or task forces that are talking about it? Not that I am aware of. There could be some out there, but it is not sweeping the nation in terms of a trend.

We need to think about it, because you are quite right. Things will not be the same, and traditions that have been there for years and years may not be what they have been in the past.

The Chairman: So you are saying, then, that there has been no evaluation of the economic impact to ecotourism by your groups at all?

Ms. Patterson: No, no. There is very limited research on ecotourism in general. There have been some studies done. Western Canada has done one of the landmark studies. It was a joint study between B.C. and Alberta on the economic potential of ecotourism, but that was in 1994 and 1995.

The Chairman: No current figures at all, then?

Ms. Patterson: No.

Senator Chalifoux: Just one more comment. What would you recommend to this committee regarding your industry in policy change, or what would you ask us to really report on?

Ms. Patterson: Well, two things, I guess. One would be, do not take away the flexibility for these tourism operators. There are things I have not gotten into, but as I said, those operators that have the diversity have the best chance. There are operators, say, in K Country that used to be able to go hiking on 50 trails. They would not do all 50, but they would have permits to allow them to go to all those trails. Now they are being restricted to only two or three trails.

That is like putting both hands behind your back, and saying, ``Go beat that guy,'' and it is making it very difficult. So do not take away the diversity that we need in order to have any chance.

The second thing is to provide opportunities for tourism to be at the table. Often, nature tourism is the poor cousin; it does not get a voice. That is why I am so thrilled that you gave me this opportunity. I think it is important for our voice to be heard because nature tourism has tremendous potential.

There are many studies on the economic impact on bird hunting, bird watching, and nature tourism in communities. It is just starting to catch on, and I would hate to see it snuffed out so quickly. If we could get more input, that would be helpful.

Senator LaPierre: Thank you for coming, Madam.

As you said, it is a rural business, is it not?

Ms. Patterson: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: I will give you just one idea. Madame, we understand that you are hit here in Alberta by 10,000 lightning bolts. I think Dr. Amiro told us that before. Consequently, there are many forest fires. Mushrooms grow magnificently on the soil of forest fires, and consequently, you could have a mushroom festival. You should be the province of the mushroom festival.

In British Columbia, in my village lived a woman who was the mushroom lady of the planet. When there was a huge forest fire in China, she was summoned to help develop the mushroom industry of China. So, Madame, there is an idea that I pass on to you.

Ms. Patterson: I think watching the lightning strikes is a great idea, storm watching, very popular.

Senator Fairbairn: As you were talking, I flipped through your presentation, and one thing struck me, and I do understand the sort of joyous appreciation of your industry. I come from the southwest corner of this province down in the foothills and the mountains, and it is a big issue there as well.

One thing that jumped out at me, because it is also kind of the drought capital of Alberta, not for one year, but several years, you say under ``Longer Term Impacts of Climate Change'' that there may be a need to buy water. I am sorry if I ask you to repeat it, but I am interested in what you mean by that, because this is a reality that has faced ranchers and horse operations in my area. It is also facing towns that rely on, a couple years ago, lakes that disappeared.

It is expensive, and in terms of your particular industry, how do you envisage buying water in terms of Australia and West Virginia rafting companies?

Ms. Patterson: That is a case where people are buying water for whitewater experiences, so it is where rivers are being dammed, where they do not run free anymore. Because there is not enough runoff for the recreational opportunities, they are looking at paying a fee to hydroelectricity companies or the local authorities in exchange for the revenue that they would get by using it for another purpose.

In Australia, rafting companies are spending $1 million a year to be able to offer rafting, I believe, 365 days of the year. It is a specific case that I am giving you where those operators that depend on that thrill experience of having volumes of whitewater coming at you are paying for the privilege of having water released for their use that cannot be used for an alternative purpose, in this case, generating power.

Senator Fairbairn: If you were suffering in our province from a lack of runoff, you might be in competition with places like towns in that kind of thing. That is sort of a worst-case scenario.

Ms. Patterson: That is where you need more than just money. You need enough business to compensate that, but you need to have the discussion going on. You need to have a place where people can talk.

We saw some of that controversy here last summer with the golf tournament around Wolf Creek, where water was diverted from agriculture for a golf course. Sometimes we need to have the forum where people can chat. Those issues are going to become more and more important. Recreation is seen as a less important facet, but it is also becoming an important part of economic activity. As our resource extraction shrinks, it becomes more important.

Senator Fairbairn: It is a very interesting and difficult area, in terms of your industry and in terms of the whole province.

Ms. Patterson: Yes. It is very complex.

Senator Gustafson: A quick question: The element of fear seems to permeate all of our society since September 11 and so on, and must directly affect tourism. How do you deal with that?

Ms. Patterson: We have a lot of discussions around fear. We do not about climate change, but we do talk about fear. It has been front and centre at many conferences and gatherings. What we are finding is that there is more interest in nature-based tourism and adventure-based tourism because these people are more resilient. By its very nature, adventure has an element of fear to it, so people this type of tourist is still willing to travel within reasonable guidelines.

In Canada, people are more willing to travel than, say, in the U.S. They are not as fearful, but often perception, again, is everything.

As one operator says, ``Carol, you have to understand our market. Most of our nature tourists are 50-plus, and they sort of have in their minds 10 good years of travel.'' They raise the children, push them out the door, and they know they have got a few years before heath problems or whatever come into play. So they are not as afraid as you might think.

They are not going to travel into a war zone, but they are well educated, and they are going to make calculated decisions, but they are not likely to stop travelling. They may stop for short periods of time.

We have obviously had some significant impacts from 9-11, but that is across the entire tourism industry including business travel as well. That is a whole other issue I could get into. As to the nature and adventure travel sector, we are finding that to be more resilient for a number of reasons.

Senator Gustafson: Given the 60-cent dollar, it should be a great enticement to the Americans to spend money in Canada. What is happening there in terms of numbers?

Ms. Patterson: It is starting to come back. Destinations within driving distance of the U.S. are doing better, but yes, we are finding that the Americans are much less likely to travel, even for this type of tourism. They are afraid.

The Chairman: Thanks very, very much. You can tell by all the questions that you have really stimulated everyone thinking in this area. I appreciate it.

The Chairman: Our next presenter is from Wild Rose Agricultural Producers, Mr. Keith Degenhardt.

Mr. Keith Degenhardt, Director, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers: Wild Rose Agricultural Producers is the general farm organization in Alberta. It represents farm families from all over Alberta who are involved in all types of agriculture. Alberta farmers have experienced unbelievable extremes in weather over the last decade. The latest affront with 2002 with the worst drought in 120 years in the majority of Alberta and flood conditions south of Highway 1, which had seen devastating drought for the previous three years.

The most common observation of farmers over the last decade other than summer weather extremes has been our unusual, warm, dry winters. To farmers, the concept of climate change and how it will affect our livelihood is what we live with season to season.

The international community and our federal government have accepted the premises that our climate is changing. I see evidence of this in the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, the work being initiated on best management practices that reduce greenhouse gasses, and the plans for a domestic emissions trading system. These, along with the extra pressure resulting from extreme weather, are issues farmers will have to deal with over the next decades.

Farmers will want to work with the scientific community, governments, and agro-industry in trying to develop technologies to offset the risks related to climate change. Working with farmers and making use of their on-the-ground knowledge will be very important.

An example of this gone wrong occurred in southern Alberta this past year. The Alberta government, with financial assistance from Ottawa, utilized satellite imagery to determine vegetative production on pastures in southern Alberta for pasture insurance. Producers with pastures devastated by drought for more than three years grew abundant, dense crops of tansy mustard, which is unpalatable to livestock, but very little grass with this year's rain.

They found that under the pasture insurance program, they did not qualify for pasture insurance, because the satellite imagery showed they had tremendous production. The word ``ground truth'' had not occurred to people administering this program.

Agriculture is a high-risk business that does not need lack of communication and practical knowledge to impede it. We do need, however, to determine, with strong support from government and agro-industry, the impacts of climate change in agriculture. If we can obtain this knowledge, we then need to incorporate the information regionally to minimize the effects of climate change.

One example of this is the ongoing studies showing N2O release on the Prairies to be significantly less than previously reported from research in eastern Canada. Soil scientists think the drier prairie climate may explain the lower emissions. This discrepancy could increase with climate change.

The new carbon market may have both positive and negative effects on agriculture. In developing this market, there will have to be some major thought put into developing incentives to encourage industries that purchase carbon credits to look at, first, reducing CO2 and, second, purchasing CO2 credits.

Farmers involved in carbon trading will have to be rewarded in some manner for early adoption of soil conversation and CO2 sequestration. Otherwise carbon trading may be a disincentive resulting in farmers changing away from minimum or zero till and perennial forages, then returning to it for credit.

Finally, there is the question of ownership. Wild Rose's policy is that the farmer should own the rights to carbon stored in his soil. For the farmer, this is a no-brainer since they have management responsibility over the soil carbon stocks.

With greater risks to farmers from climate change, our safety nets need to be strengthened, not weakened. Farmers are being asked to invest more in their safety nets, but are not convinced that they will be getting better or even equal coverage from their investments. Programs need to be effective and affordable to the farmer. While saving money from the public purse may be commendable in the short term, the long-term effects may be negative if the viability of the family farm is lost. With the new program, farmers will be looking at obtaining the best bang for their buck.

In minimizing the impact of climate change, farmers will cooperate and adopt both technology and best management practices at ever-increasing rates, especially when it is in their long-term best interest. With our much milder winters and drier, hot summers, this past decade we have had different pests increase dramatically.

We have had the orange blossom wheat midge move north to the Canadian Prairies, grasshopper numbers increase dramatically, and a change in fungal, bacterial, and viral disease complexes. This has and will result in an increase and greater flexibility in how farmers, agro-industry, and governments are investing in research.

An example of increased flexibility is the major dollars being invested federally, provincially, and by farmers through the Western Grains Research Foundation wheat and barley check-offs on fusarium and wheat midge research.

With climate change, farmers will be looking more than ever at research directed at reducing their inputs while increasing their returns. Research aimed at long-term rotations, drought-tolerant crops and varieties, and the interactions between annuals, perennials, and livestock in weed control will need greater emphasis.

In mitigating climate change, farmers will be quick to adopt alternative energy sources. Farmers are using both solar and wind energy at present. Many of them, with rising energy costs, are studying the feasibility of being net suppliers of energy. If there is the political will and investment by all parties, alternative energy production in rural Canada could be a great boon to all and have a great impact on our Kyoto commitment.

As well, the concept of biofuels is of great intrigue to farmers, but if we go in that direction, we will really have to look at plants that will be mass producers of either carbohydrates or oils and breed in that direction.

Climate change is going to put a great deal of pressure on agriculture. Hopefully, our responses will help to alleviate these pressures. It will be in the best interests of humanity.

Thank you for your interest in our opinions and suggestions. I would like to invite you to keep in touch.

Senator Gustafson: You cover the province of Alberta; is your experience of losing young farmers the same as Saskatchewan? We have lost about 34 per cent of our farmers in the last five years. What is happening in Alberta?

Mr. Degenhardt: Our experience in Alberta, especially where there is oil industry presence, is we have part-time farmers. We do not have full-time farmers. We have young farmers, but they are all part-time farmers, because they are also working off farm in the oil industry.

Senator Gustafson: What do your numbers say?

Mr. Degenhardt: Ratio of young to old, as in other provinces, our age of full-time farmers is increasing, and so we are no different, but we have to look at the fact that there are a lot more part-time farmers. In our rural communities, because of the oil industry, we have a lot of young people and a lot of young families that I do not think are common in Saskatchewan.

Senator Gustafson: We have some of that, but it is in pockets.

When we deal with the drought and global warming and so on, there are a lot of negatives that come in — maybe too many. I was thinking about the suggestion of — and the Americans did this for years — storing up grain in bountiful years and then selling it in light years.

Now, Canada can do something that no other country can do — except perhaps, part of Russia — and that is, once grain freezes, and the bugs are frozen out of it, it will keep for years. Would it be possible to rethink history? This is as old as the Book of Exodus — store up grain in the bountiful years for the lean years?

If government were to assist farmers in doing that with storage and so on, it seems to me it could become an excellent asset and commodity, not only for the Third World, but also for the farmers.

Mr. Degenhardt: Some farmers are already considering that. They have to be prepared to do that, because, for example, in central Alberta, what little income came from grains came from stored grains.

Senator Gustafson: Carried over?

Mr. Degenhardt: Carry over.

Senator Gustafson: I am thinking of something bigger than that, whereby the government puts up storage and pays for the cost of it, because a lot of farmers would not be capable of doing that. The wealthy farmer could; he can hang on to his canola until the price goes to $10 or his mustard until it goes to $20. However, the average farmer cannot do that.

Mr. Degenhardt: That is an interesting outlook. It would be interesting to see if we can get some commitment on that, because in my years as a farmer since 1983, I have not seen much commitment in that direction, for storage.

Senator Gustafson: In fact, the movement has been the opposite. Do not store grain, keep the rails moving, get the stuff moving.

Mr. Degenhardt: That is the object. What we have aimed for in Canada is to have a high throughput system that moves the grain out as fast as we can, not store it. That is what has happened. Our storage capabilities have been greatly decimated over the last 10 years. There is no question.

Senator Gustafson: There is a possibility that we may have been wrong and that maybe we should be rethinking some of these situations, especially given the global situation. There is less grain stored today in the world than ever in the history of agriculture.

Mr. Degenhardt: I agree fully. If we have another bad year somewhere in the world this year, what we saw in price increases will be nothing compared to next year, because our stocks worldwide have gone down considerably. I agree, but I have that little bit of scepticism about commitment. I will be honest.

Senator Gustafson: Maybe it takes some work.

The other thing I would like to mention is the Third World. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which is an excellent NGO, tells us that they do not have enough grain to get to the starving countries. It is very broad. Somehow, we have never been able to deal with that situation. At the same time, we are talking about burning wheat for heat. We are talking about ethanol. I am a little bit sceptical about that. How far it is really going to go as long as government has to subsidize it?

I am wondering if we should not rethink our whole policy in this regard.

Mr. Degenhardt: Canada, federally, has contributed less and less world food aid, so, again, you are suggesting something that is contrary to what has been occurring, and farmers, through the food bank, are looking at it.

Something that farmers have been very proud of is that they consider themselves one of the breadbaskets of the world. They want to contribute and help people in poorer countries. That is something, again, that farmers will be willing to accept and probably willing to aid in, but we have to see the commitment elsewhere as well.

Senator Tkachuk: When you said, in response to Senator Gustafson about part-time farmers, they were working in the oil fields, what do you mean by ``part-time farmers''? Are you talking about grain farmers, or are you talking about mixed farmers and they have a job?

Mr. Degenhardt: I am talking about farmers in general, regardless of the enterprise that they are in. Whether they are a livestock producer, a grain producer, or a mixed farmer, the young farmers are depending on the oil patch for the cash flow and, in some cases, to fund their hobby called farming.

One thing we have, with the oil patch in Alberta, because of the wealth, is our land values are quite high. Anyone going into agriculture, unless they are inheriting the farm, have a major debt load ahead of them, because they are looking at outside sources to supply the income to buy the farm.

Senator Tkachuk: Is that because of the potential resources underneath? Is that why they are higher, or is it just that there is a bigger demand here?

Mr. Degenhardt: To some extent, yes. In the area that I am in, for example, east central Alberta, about 30 miles from the Saskatchewan border, we got an inch of moisture this year, and it is an area that has switched dramatically to livestock production, but when you look at our returns, it does not justify the land values being paid. You cannot purchase that land without some source of income or else inheriting the land.

Senator Tkachuk: Why do people buy it?

Mr. Degenhardt: This is this attraction to own land if you come from a rural community. When I am in the urban community, I see all these SUVs, Mercedes, and so forth. People can get around in other ways, but that seems to be what they aim for.

Senator Tkachuk: You mentioned the drought, which was a serious drought, not only here, but across Saskatchewan as well. Manitoba did not seem to be affected as much, but you said the worst drought in 120 years in the majority of Alberta. Was it worse than the 1930s, 120 years ago?

Mr. Degenhardt: Yes. It was much worse than the 1930s. There are studies being done in Regina where they have been looking at the tree rings. When they look at the growth of tree rings and with these trees, anywhere from 200 to 300 years old, the 1930s is barely a blip in tree ring growth.

When I talked to my parents and grandparents, they got significant snowfall in the winter in the 1930s, and they got moisture, but they got it at the wrong time.

For example, on our farm this year, I speak of an inch of moisture, which was during the primary growing season when I wanted to produce a grain crop, but we actually got rain in the middle of the August. So we had canola in full flower and flax in full flower in September when we want to harvest the material.

Senator Tkachuk: You got it at the wrong time too, though. You got it in August rather than in the spring. In the fall it started raining quite a bit.

Mr. Degenhardt: That is in parts of Saskatchewan. When we got that, it was enough to get some growth so we could do some salvage as far as green pea, but we got only 2 1/2 inches. For the year, we had 3 1/2 inches; 3 1/2 inches is still not much moisture.

Senator Tkachuk: Right. Just trying to get a perspective on this to see if there are any other patterns besides. Do you think this is going to be permanent?

Mr. Degenhardt: In my presentation I referred to working with the scientific community. The scientific community is not unanimous on climate change or effects. In fact, there are people going around Alberta right now stating that we do not have climate change. We have sunspots creating extreme weather.

Senator Tkachuk: Well, there are a lot of scientists saying that.

Mr. Degenhardt: One of them is going around Alberta, giving presentations, saying that very thing. He may be right, but regardless, farmers are experiencing extremes in weather. That is what we are going to have to deal with, and that is what we have to develop, varieties in crops and farming techniques to cope with those extremes.

For example, in our area, we normally have had enough pasture to handle all our livestock. Cattle went out of the area, and because of the lack of moisture, 85 per cent of the annual crops were pastured, what the grasshoppers did not get.

Senator Tkachuk: Yes. I drove through the grasshoppers here. It was between Kindersley and Drumheller. It was pretty fierce. I have seen that before too.

Senator Fairbairn: Thank you for being here Mr. Degenhardt. I have known Wild Rose for a long time, and I always admired it for the fact that, as you say, the farmers are very close, in your organization. They are very close to the ground, and I shuddered when you talked about ``ground truth'' in the early part of your presentation and the picture from the satellite compared to what actually was taking place in my part of the south with the non-pastures and this kind of thing.

Also, as you commented, we have suffered — your area, my area — not for one year, but a number of years with some of the worst drought that anyone has any recollection of. Then this year it was flash flooding when seeding was on, and it was cold and rainy when you needed to finish off your corn crop and your sugar beets. It just was not working.

You have nonetheless produced a rather hopeful kind of presentation today, which I appreciate, and I am sure the committee does too, because you are facing a reality and looking for a way to deal with it.

Your final words here said you would like to keep in touch. That is an issue that has come up in a number of presentations back in Ottawa when groups have been coming to us, and that is the question of communications on these difficult issues. I would like to ask you if you feel that (a) the farmers are getting enough regular back-and-forth communication on what is happening as the months go on in the crop year? If not, have you any suggestions on how we could do it better?

Certainly we should not rely totally on satellites. If we are going to get through this, if we are going to adapt and change, and nobody does it better than the farmers, should we be developing now with government, with farm organizations, and through them with their membership a more significant, regular, and pointed form of communication than now exists within our system?

Mr. Degenhardt: I would have to say yes. Our group, along with a lot of other farm groups and even through CFA, the grain growers, are working on the Agricultural Policy Framework, APF, and there seems to be a barrier in communication there. They are coming forward with one view to try to sell us, and they are having another view presented to them. We really do not want something sold to us. We want to be part of developing it.

I think we need to do more on communication. Right now we do not seem to have it. It seems to be, let us hand this down and see what sort of response it has in the community, see if it has an effect in the community. So yes, I would like to see more communication, more feedback. Right now it seems like we are not getting it.

Senator Fairbairn: Being told rather than consulted?

Mr. Degenhardt: Yes.

Senator Fairbairn: One final question: Just before Christmas, there was a report out of Alberta. I believe it was researchers within Alberta Agriculture who at that time in the fall were — I would not use the word ``predicting,'' but were looking ahead into the next season, and without a terrific winter and spring — suggesting that 90 per cent of the productive land in Alberta would not be able to produce meaningfully.

What is your response to that? That was a very startling comment, which, as it was reported anyhow, certainly stuck in my mind.

Mr. Degenhardt: I can talk about the immediate area I am in, which is primarily livestock. We are also in the seed business, my wife and I on our farm, and so we talked to farmers about what their seeding intentions are, and we have two totally different opinions of what they are going to do.

One is, everything is going into feed grains, because they have got to have something for their cattle. Then you have the people who have possibly some swing acres, and they are not expecting to get production, so they are looking at what they are going to get the best return on from crop insurance.

I will be honest; that is what they are looking at. They are saying, ``On my farm with my indexes, canola is the best thing I can put down as far as what I will get out of crop insurance.'' They are not looking at maybe that being best for this coming season, although the canola was a real shocker this year for what it did for the feed industry, not for oil seed production.

There are a lot of people whose bacon was saved because they put up canola for salvage from their neighbour and so forth. That is how they are determining what they are going to do, because they do not feel we can predict we are going to get the moisture to produce a crop. It is as simple as that.

Senator Gustafson: On the feed situation, how is Alberta going to deal with the situation of feed as long as Illinois and Iowa corn is coming in at $2 a bushel? The truckers in my area that spent last year trucking barley into Alberta said many of them never even made one trip because of all the corn coming in from the U.S.

Mr. Degenhardt: That is an interesting phenomenon of that program. You did not touch upon one other program they have in the U.S. besides storage of grain. The other program is their five-year farm program.

Alberta has been a province that has claimed that we need to look at value-added, and that is where we need to go. Farmers, again, have been a little bit sceptical because often, what value-added means is the raw product has to be sold for less. U.S. is taking it one further.

They have said, ``We know it is going to be sold for less, so we are going to make sure the farmer gets a viable return from the government.'' However, the value-added industries are going to get their little bonus, because they are going to have lots of raw product. We think they have bought value-added industry, and that corn coming in is just part and parcel of that program.

Senator Tkachuk: As long as the American government subsidizes their farmers to the extent they do, the Canadian farmer, who is left on his own without the subsidies, cannot compete.

Mr. Degenhardt: I do have to comment that even though they did not ship that barley, from personal experience and again, from a lot of truckers, there were a lot of trucks out of Saskatchewan carrying bales and other sources. At our farm, if it were not for bales out of Watson, Saskatchewan, we would not have had enough feed for our livestock herd.

One further comment about this weird year: As you say, parts did get the rain, but so many of those areas still have not got their crop off. That is the shocking part. In areas of Saskatchewan like that Watson area and areas of southern Alberta, they still have fields out there that they have not taken off. So it has been even harder on them, the frustration of growing a crop and then not being able to harvest the crop.

The Chairman: One of the most interesting things you said is that, as a result of certain rules and regulations in terms of farm supports, it is actually a huge impediment to adapting to climate change. I found that very useful and something that we will be looking at in our committee.

Senator Hubley: My question is going to follow along what you have just stated. Would you comment briefly on the effectiveness of the safety net programs that are available to the farming community? Which ones are working, which ones are not working, and how should they change to facilitate the farmers' ability to adapt to climate change?

Mr. Degenhardt: That would take longer than a brief comment. We had this APF in progress, and so there seems to be a determination to make that work. We seem to be having a program presented to us and sold to us that is going to solve our problem, so all I would be doing is giving you another viewpoint.

As far as we are concerned, in Alberta, crop insurance is our disaster insurance, because it gives us our baseline. We will recover some of our inputs if we have to go on crop insurance. It is not insuring the 70 per cent the way it is developed and indexed where we refer to it as disaster insurance.

For an established farmer, Net Income Stabilization Accounts, NISA, is a good program, as it presently sits. Yet, there is a real gap when it comes to the beginning farmer, which we have not addressed. Hopefully, that is one positive out of APF, some addressing of that issue.

When it comes to CFIP or what was presumably the disaster component program, it works very well for single- commodity operations, but not for any diversified farms. One of the reasons farmers diversify is to save their bacon because when something fails, something else will work. CFIP has not worked well on anything but single-commodity farms. So that is how I view what we have had in the past.

As far as APF, what I have seen of it, the analysis we have seen of it, we are not sure what is going to happen with it, whether it will work or not. It is difficult to say whether that program is going to be positive or negative.

The only thing we can say is, as in my presentation, we know we are going to pay more, which does not bother us as long as we can get that bang for the buck and as long as it does not affect some other program.

The Chairman: Thank you very, very much, Mr. Degenhardt.

Our next presenter is Daniel Archambault from the Alberta Research Counsel. Please proceed, Mr. Archambault.

Mr. Daniel Archambault, Research Scientist, Alberta Research Council: I would like to start by thanking you for the opportunity to speak before you this morning and to go through some of my views on climate change impacts and adaptation in agriculture. My views mostly represent those of a research scientist rather than a farmer, and also my views might reflect those of my colleagues, especially those that work in our research group at the Alberta Research Council.

As I mentioned, I work for the Alberta Research Council, which is a subsidiary of the Alberta Science and Research Authority. It is a not-for-profit corporation where we do research and development, technology commercialization, and some fee-for-service work.

I am part of a division called Integrated Resource Management that was recently formed at the Alberta Research Council to address issues relating to natural resource management. It also has a focus to develop technologies for sustainable development, a very important component of dealing with climate change. We also have formed an environmental technologies business unit, which has a specific program on adaptation and biofixation.

The biofixation part of the program deals mostly with mitigation of climate change through fixation of carbons via carbon sequestration and also through the fixation of nitrogen by biological means, and thereby decreasing the use of chemical fertilizers that produce greenhouse gases.

My plan here this morning is to give some examples of the work that we have done to show some of the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and then make some suggestions as to adaptation and a few recommendations. I would like to try and build a case here for a more concerted effort, maybe in adaptation specifically and towards developing technologies that will help in adaptation.

Briefly, we also study the effects of agriculture on the environment as well as the effects of the environment on agriculture. Some examples, we study greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils, and we are developing methods to measure and try and identify practices that produce fewer greenhouse gases.

The main focus, then, and more relevant for today's discussion, is vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change. We basically have two streams of work, one in research development, and the other in technology commercialization. Development of technologies and their commercialization is an important specialty of the Alberta Research Council.

Under research and development, we look at the effects of climate change on pests, and here I use the term ``pests'' generically to depict weeds, diseases, and insects. Also, when I speak of effects of climate change on pesticide efficacy, again, we are looking at how the efficacy of herbicides, for example, might be affected by climate change.

We also studied drought tolerance of important crops of Alberta and their water-use efficiency, and various cultivation practices. In terms of developing technologies, some of the areas we are looking at are drought-tolerant varieties. The use of new green manuring technologies: green manuring is the process of using plant material to fertilize soil rather than chemicals, integrated fertility approaches of combining the use of chemicals, chemical fertilizers, with organic forms of fertilizers. Also, we work on renewable products like biofuels and agrofibers.

The next slide illustrates the fact that we now have identified both positive and negative impacts of climate change, and this comes from the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Directorate. Most of the examples that I am going to use today are negative impacts, so they are listed on the right-hand column. For example, I will show some data on decreased efficacy of herbicides.

When they speak of climate change, what sorts of climate change do we expect? Severe weather, drought and flooding, elevated temperatures — on a larger scale known as global warming — elevated carbon dioxide at ground level, and changes in length of growing season. I have highlighted in yellow those for which I want to give more information.

The first one is drought. This slide shows that precipitation did a departure from a 30-year normal this past season. The dark orange regions show much below precipitation levels. As I have indicated, the town of Vegreville where our research centre is, is right in the middle of this much-below-average precipitation.

Our research is most relevant to central and east central Alberta. As you can see from this map, during this past season and other recent seasons, we have had extreme drought in those areas.

Precipitation in Vegreville in 2002 was extremely low this past year, and barley yields in our own experimental plots dropped by about 50 per cent from normal.

As an aside here, I want to point out the difficulties that this brings in our field research. It is not only an effect on local farmers, but our own field research is very much affected by the drought.

Again on drought, these are figures that represent the entire province of Alberta, showing spring soil moisture, comparing on the left an average of multiple years, and on the right, the year 2002. I want to show that the low and very low — or the proportion of soils with low and very low — moisture levels is much greater in 2002 than in the past.

Some of effects on crops may be obvious: decreased germination, decreased biomass and yield, premature aging, and poor quality of the harvested products.

What are some of the adaptation options? Obviously, this is not an extensive list, but provides some examples of what we might work on. More extensive irrigation is one example that requires more on-farm water management, also increased efficiency of irrigation systems.

It is easy to say, ``We will just irrigate more land,'' but water is limited, especially in the southern parts of the province. So the efficiency of irrigation needs to be worked on. This is an engineering-type problem where technologies may need to be developed.

In the area of drought-tolerant varieties, which is related to improved water-use efficiency, when we speak of water- use efficiency, we might look at the whole cropping system, rather than just a single variety. We might also need to develop new crops or new drought-tolerant crops.

Still on effects of climate change, global warming, and some temperature effects, there are important effects of temperature on weeds. For example, tropical and warm temperate weeds might start to move north from the U.S. mostly. The rate of expansion of their ranges is accelerating, so they are moving into the province more quickly.

Also, an effect of temperature but more directly on crops, Lobell and Asner recently estimated that for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature, there is about a 17 per cent crop loss in corn and soy bean. Temperatures might affect differentially a crop versus a weed, and the whole dynamic might change. Those are things that need to be studied.

Increases in temperature and drought are more immediate in our mind, but when we think of climate change, we also think of elevated carbon dioxide. We are all aware of how carbon dioxide levels at ground level have increases over the last 100 years, and they are predicted to continue to increase.

We have been looking at some of the effects of elevated carbon dioxide, and this figure shows biomass production of a number of different, important weeds of Alberta. You will notice in the right-hand column, the per cent change, that the biomass production or growth increases quite dramatically. The first one on the list, green foxtail, is one of those species that is not expected to respond very much to elevated carbon dioxide, yet our data shows otherwise. There is a lot of uncertainty as to how weeds will respond to elevated carbon dioxide.

Also on carbon dioxide, we looked at herbicide efficacy. We tested a number of herbicides and looked at the effects of elevated CO2. A number of herbicides, depending on the rate applied, have the efficacy decreased quite dramatically, in some cases by up to nearly 60 per cent, so again, uncertainty there.

In the case of weed and crop competition, in some of our experiments, in the absence of competition from a crop, we saw wild oats biomass increase by about 55 per cent, yet when barley was grown in competition with the weed, there was no increase in biomass in wild oats. Again, it is hard to predict the effects of carbon dioxide. You might have an increased growth in the weed, or if it is grown in competition with a certain crop, then you might not see that increase at all.

The efficacy of the herbicides might decrease, and how do we actually predict what is going to happen in the future in terms of, most importantly, the yield of the crop and, of course, the quality.

Some adaptation options are simpler than others. We might increase, of course, the rates of herbicide or pesticide application, to the detriment of our environment. We might need to develop new pesticides that are not in existence today.

We might have to look at new pest-control technologies — and here I put an example of biological biocontrols — and also, changes in agricultural practices such as crop rotations and different cultivation practices. The point of this slide is to illustrate that there is very likely a need, an important need, for development of technologies to deal with these issues in this slide, particularly to do with pests and control of pests.

The next slide deals with elevated CO2 effects on plant nutrition itself and on the nutritional value of the crop. The first point is that elevated CO2 can increase crop yields, and that has been known for a very long time. However, some recent studies show that those plants also have a lower nutritional value, which means that basically a person would have to eat more of it to satisfy their nutritional needs.

How do we deal with that? We might try to increase the amount of fertilizers we apply, for example, to see if we can counteract that effect, so the quality of the harvested parts is maintained in the event of elevated CO2. When we do that, we not only fertilize the crop, we fertilize the weeds. Again, that has an effect on the weed-crop competition. So weed competition might eliminate those yield-enhancing effects of fertilization, also the yield-enhancing effects of carbon dioxide enrichments in the environment.

Briefly, I would like to highlight some of the adaptation initiatives. I am sure you are aware of all this, but this leads to a point that I want to make in my recommendations.

The Climate Change Action Fund was established in 1998, and from that, there is a subcomponent of science, impacts, and adaptation, which is lead by Natural Resources Canada. The entire subcomponent was for $15 million over a number of years split between science, impacts, and adaptation work, with the mandate of studying impacts and adaptation and also developing adaptation strategies.

Through funds from CCAF, the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative was formed in 2000. A lot of the work that I just presented to you was partially funded from the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative. If you look at all the lists of projects specifically on adaptation or climate change research in agriculture, you will find that only four agricultural projects have been funded, which is a relatively small number of projects.

More recently, again with the support of the Climate Change Action Fund, the Canadian Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Research Network, agricultural sector, was developed, and that is a good initiative. I have been part of this network probably since its inception, and I have been aware of the work they do. Now we have a good mechanism to coordinate work in this area on both impacts and adaptation.

The point of this was to build a network to promote and facilitate research on climate impacts, vulnerabilities, risks, and adaptation. Again, this organization is split in exactly which part of climate change we study.

Finally, the recommendations, then: What I have tried to do is show, in the last slide, that on the larger scale, when you look at it, there is not that much of an investment yet made in adaptation, especially in adaptation technology. So we have identified now several vulnerabilities of agriculture.

We have also identified some of the opportunities related to agriculture, and we continue to do so, but now is really the time to work on the technologies that are required to adapt to climate change. I believe that this can be done through the creation of some sort of agricultural adaptation centre where a real focus on technology development could be achieved.

Finally, of course, that needs increased government investment in climate change R and D and adaptation technology development, and also work by the government to encourage industries to invest in adaptation research early and not wait until the effects are so widespread that it is practically unrecoverable.

The Chairman: Thank you for a most excellent report. One of the things we have found since we have come to Western Canada is that a number of the witnesses are talking about the main part of our study, which is adaptation. You have done that yet again, and I note your bias towards new technologies. That is wonderful, I do appreciate all the things you said.

Senator Hubley: We have been very impressed with the calibre of the presentations that we have seen and the amount of work that is being done in this area.

My question is about communications. How are we going to partnership the work that you are doing with the farming community that is ultimately going to need this information to develop their adaptation strategies? What avenues are available to you to communicate this vital information to the farm community?

Mr. Archambault: Our avenues are on a local scale rather than province-wide. We work with a lot of farmers in our area because we have experimental plots on their lands. We hold regular open houses at the Alberta Research Council to try and bring in producers and talk about the work we do and try and enhance the extension mechanisms.

That is the sort of thing that we do at the Alberta Research Council. I suppose that some organizations like C- CIARN also try and put information out there for farmers. Perhaps more of an effort could be made to bring them in on our discussions.

Senator Hubley: Do you find that the farming community is looking for this information?

Mr. Archambault: As I said at the beginning, my perspective is more from the scientific research side. I say that because I do not work in extension to a large extent. However, when we do have the occasion to demonstrate our work to farmers, that they are very interested. We always get a very good turnout and lots of questions.

Senator Hubley: I really think that communication is going to come into play in a major way in allowing the farmers the time and opportunity to adjust and to look creatively at what their strategy is going to be.

Senator Wiebe: Has the Alberta Research Council done any research work in terms of water, water availability, and groundwater? By ``groundwater,'' I mean water that is located in huge reservoirs underneath the surface.

Mr. Archambault: We have not done so for the purpose of agriculture. There is some work being done on monitoring. However, for the purposes of our research, there is no wide initiative or our substantial type of program for that activity in the Alberta Research Council.

Senator Wiebe: Do you know whether there is any department within the government in Alberta that studies underground levels and the availability of water?

Mr. Archambault: I am not sure. There is a soil science researchers' group in Alberta that is working with Environment Canada to gather information on precipitation and soil moisture levels. As to studies on actual water reserves in the water table and so forth, I am not aware of any.

Senator Wiebe: I ask the question because in order to have rain, you have to have heat, and then evaporation, and then you have rain. Our planet is not going to lose any water unless we pump it into the ground. Where we were receiving moisture in the past over a three-day period, we will now probably receive the same amount of moisture in an hour and a half. The key in adaptation will be how we store that water for future use. Do we allow it to flow back out to the oceans?

The state of Colorado has a tremendous agricultural industry from ground water. They pump it up from wells underneath the ground. The problem is that they did not do the proper research on it and the mountains that feed that underground water. They are having problems with the lack of snow.

Perhaps we could be looking into using that capability. For example, the southern part of Saskatchewan is one huge lake. Part of my water hook-up for my farm is from that lake. When we built the well, they told us that it was an endless supply. Well, we know that endless supplies are eventually used up. That is what has happened in Colorado.

Maybe we should be doing some research on taking excess and replenishing those underground caverns. That is going to be the way to store and save water. You do not have to worry about evaporation. You do not have to worry about huge dams being built on top. Wherever that lake is throughout Alberta and throughout Saskatchewan, wells can be done.

I was hoping to get an answer to that question of mine. Could I ask you to check with other departments within the government if they are doing work such as this? If they are, would you advise our clerk. He will pass that information on to us. Is that a fair question?

Mr. Archambault: Yes, it is a fair question. That is an interesting idea. You are right in saying that it seems to be the distribution of water that is changing, rather than the actual total quantity. There is work being done in the area of carbon dioxide sequestration where carbon dioxide is being pumped into aquifers in the soil.

The biggest project in that respect is somewhere around Wayburn and Manitoba. As part of that project, there has been a fairly extensive mapping of the aquifers in those areas. If those technologies prove useful, they might expand to other provinces. Therefore, more mapping of aquifers will be required. I am aware of scientists that are leading that project in carbon sequestration. I could talk to them.

Senator Wiebe: If you could provide us with some information, it would be tremendous.

The Chairman: Yesterday, we had some evidence in Saskatchewan of some piping systems where people pipe water from streams and lakes to farms to help with both irrigation and watering of animals and so on. It is somewhat surprising that there are not more sophisticated watering systems available in Alberta given that there are the mountains. I would think that one could run pipes from the mountains. However, I am just surprised that you indicate there is so little research work done on that.

Mr. Archambault: For a large part of the province, it has not really been a big problem until recently, so irrigation was not necessary. In the portion that is irrigated, yes, I think a lot of research is necessary to improve the efficiency of the irrigation systems.

Senator Tkachuk: I may be mistaken, but the 1990s were a pretty good decade for agriculture, were they not? Crops were good in our province; were they good here in Alberta?

Mr. Archambault: Yes.

Senator Tkachuk: We had some drought in the mid-1980s — particularly 1984-85. It was pretty serious. I do not know how serious it was in Alberta, but it certainly was in Saskatchewan.

However, in 1990s we saw good crop yields and good agriculture production. If I go to page 4 of your presentation, I see climate change, drought, flooding, elevated temperatures, and elevated CO2. What is that based on? Is that based on models, computer models you are running?

Mr. Archambault: Well, I suppose they are not all based on the same pieces of information. These are projections for temperature rise, elevated carbon dioxide, and so on. Yes, it is based on computer models. However, in the case of elevated CO2, the trend is very obvious. I do not think you need much of a computer system to see how it is increasing nearly exponentially.

It is based on observation. Some of these observations are also on the global scale, so it depends on exactly where you are looking at.

Senator Tkachuk: I am asking this because in reading the scientific literature, you see their next 100-year projection on the amount of temperature increase is varied. That is why I am asking is this based on one degree? Two degrees? Three degrees? Four degrees? What does this actually all mean? You have got this map of drought. This is the drought of 2002. We could have a map of the drought of 1984, a map of the drought of 1930, which would probably all be red. What are you telling us?

Mr. Archambault: There are two important issues to look at here: one is a time factor, and the other is a scale of the problem.

When we examine this, we look at trends, right. Depending on what level you are looking at, you can see different trends. Therefore, some of the trends are more short term. They may be for the 1990s, for example, and the others may be for the last 100 years or beyond. For example, carbon dioxide levels have been documented worldwide for nearly 100 years.

In some cases, we have information that spans a longer period and in some cases, the information covers a shorter period. If you focus on a single decade, you might say, ``Things are really bad. This is as bad as I have ever seen it.'' Yet, you look at the decade previous to that, and it was not so bad. If you look at 100 years, you may see a trend overall.

If you draw a line through the entire, say, monitoring data for 100 years, you might see a degree warmer on average, but I think one thing that is important there is that average is often driven by extreme events. You might have a drought or very high heat for a few weeks, and those have potential to be catastrophic. However, if you look at 100 years of temperature monitoring data, for example, you might find that for that one degree difference to show up in the trend, you need to have a series of those events to occur because this is such a long average, a long-running average.

Senator Tkachuk: That is what I was getting at. We have here this map of the 2002 drought. If that map signified a century as compared to previous century, then we could say there is some scientific validity to the point. However, you can take any year drought; it will be an extreme compared to the norm.

I am not trying to disparage the very idea of climate change. I am simply trying to understand more clearly so we know what some of these are when we are doing our report. On page 7 of your brief, you quote Patterson: ``Range expansion of weeds into higher latitudes might accelerate.'' Now, this was written in 1990, and it would help us if you told us if this has actually happened in the 1990s, and what weeds they are, and where did they go to?

Mr. Archambault: Most of this was done from mapping the distribution of weeds over the number of years and then feeding that information into a model to try and see where they are going. There is a definite trend. It shows that weeds that are usually found in warmer climates are moving north.

Senator Tkachuk: You say that: ``Range expansion of weeds into higher latitudes might accelerate.'' Has it accelerated in the last decade? Since you wrote this thing, have there been weeds in Alberta that were not here before that came from Montana, or did Montana get weeds that came from Nevada?

Mr. Archambault: There have been changes in the weeds that we find in Alberta, yes. Exactly where they came from and how, I cannot really answer that.

Senator Gustafson: In the mid-1980s when we had a very serious drought in southern Saskatchewan, the weed that saved us was the kosha weed. I for one believe that the soil can regenerate itself, and it knows what it needs.

Now we spray everything out. We use pesticides and so on. We did it with grasshoppers in the mid-1980s. We sprayed the grasshoppers. The areas that we did not spray cleaned up quicker than the areas we sprayed. In the areas that were not sprayed, the grasshoppers got a mite under their wings and died off. With spraying, we just prolonged the issue.

With regard to the kosha weed, if we had not had it, we would not have had any feed for our cattle. We did not have kosha weed before that drought. From a practical sense, we have to be very, very careful. There may be some short- term gain but some long-term pain.

Mr. Archambault: We must be clear about the definition of a weed. Just because a plant is not a crop, does not make it a weed. In different situations, plants are useful to us; in others, they are not. In the case you are describing, they were; therefore, by definition, it was not a weed.

There is a lot of work done on the ecology of weeds and how they affect agriculture. Some recent studies indicate that it is better for a crop to leave some weeds in. The crops actually perform better. At some point, however, the weeds are just overwhelming, and then we have a problem.

Senator Gustafson: The same thing is true with grasshoppers. When you use dieldrin, you are not only killing grasshoppers, you are killing every other living thing in that soil.

The Chairman: Including the good worms.

Senator Tkachuk: On page 9, you have an interesting statement — that CO2 can increase crop yields. However, then you mention that decrease in nutritional value may also occur. What does the word ``may,'' mean?

Mr. Archambault: It just means that the result has been reported in some studies, but not in all. Therefore, depending on the crop, depending on the level of carbon dioxide and how you fertilize it, it ``may'' occur. Hence, we might have to adjust how we apply fertilizers, the rates and so on, to counterbalance that. At a certain level of carbon dioxide, if you have the proper fertilizer regime, you might counteract that.

Senator Tkachuk: In respect of cash for climate change — like the Climate Change Action Fund — I think there were some serious initiatives in February's budget. However, I have not been back in Ottawa since the budget, so I have not had a look at exactly how much cash there will be for research into climate change.

Cash gathers people. You have got to believe that there is something bad happening so that you can get your hands on the cash. Do you think that that is going to take away resources and money from other needs of the agriculture community that also need to be researched? In other words, is this whole climate change threat going to divert cash from other legitimate areas?

For example, what portion of the Alberta Research Council's resources are directed toward climate change.

Mr. Archambault: I would say around 5 per cent. I am not an expert on how government spends money or that kind of thing.

I understand if there is a limited budget, that if you increase somewhere, you have got to decrease somewhere else. As to priorities for agriculture, well, I think you need to listen to the scientific community. There are a lot of people — very credible sources — behind this and saying that it is becoming a priority.

Agriculture is all about change and adaptation and research to improve and increase production on a per unit area basis and on dealing with new challenges. These new challenges are very important. Therefore, it seems that there is a need for more money, particularly for research into devastating effects where an entire crop can be wiped out for years on end.

The government has to establish priorities. We have general agreement that climate change is happening and we have a lot of evidence that climate change impacts agriculture. The question is whether the impacts great enough and predicted to be great enough to take action now. Many of my colleagues, and especially part of this C-CIARN network, would say yes, it is time that we act. My point is exactly that.

Now that we know that there are definite important impacts of climate change on agriculture, let us act on it. It is up to the government to decide yes, this is a credible story and we should invest in it or invest in other parts of agriculture.

The Chairman: Mr. Archambault, thank you very, very much. We appreciate all your comments.

The next witness is Mr. Robert Grant, associate professor at the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta.

Welcome, Mr. Grant. Do you have a computer presentation?

Mr. Robert Grant, Associate Professor, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta: Yes. I am just waiting for it to be brought up.

I will also be talking about climate change impacts on Canadian agriculture, as I believe was requested by this committee. I will be reporting on the results of some of my own research, as well as research carried out by colleagues in Agriculture and Agri-food Canada as well as internationally to try to paint a very broad overview of what the general scientific consensus is on what the impacts of climate change will be on the productivity of our agricultural ecosystems.

I would first of all like to review what we believe to be the positive impacts of climate change on agriculture. It has been demonstrated very consistently in numerous experiments that higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will raise carbon dioxide fixation rates, and thereby improve plant productivity. A doubling of current concentrations is expected in most climate change scenarios by the end of this century.

It has been demonstrated quite consistently that this will raise plant growth by about 30 per cent for so-called C3 plants and by a smaller figure, about 10 per cent, for C4.

It is very important to note, however, that this increase, impressive as it sounds, may be limited by nutrients and is, therefore, only achieved in the presence of adequate fertilization.

It is also known that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide lowers transpiration rates and, hence, plant water requirements. Again, if we go to the doubling CO2 scenario, this will lower water requirements by about 15 to 25 per cent, and even more so if nutrients are limiting, as is the case in most agricultural ecosystems.

We also know that higher temperatures will raise CO2 fixation rates and lengthen growing seasons. This is particularly relevant for ecosystems with mean annual temperatures less than 15 degrees where this benefit is generally positive. I should also note, however, that in ecosystems with temperatures or annual mean temperatures greater than 15 degrees this impact can be neutral or indeed negative.

This is very important in terms of productivity of tropical ecosystems, which are generally expected to decline in response to higher temperature. However, the outlook for Canadian ecosystems, because we fall within the zones that are much less than 15 degrees in annual mean temperature, the effect of temperature increase is expected generally to be positive. Higher temperatures also accelerate nutrient availability and nutrient uptake from soils.

There are, however, a number of negative impacts that we need to be aware of. Higher temperatures raise evaporation rates and, hence, water requirements. One senator asked the following question: ``What is the change of temperature increases you expect to occur by the end of this century?'' Currently, scenarios fall within the range of a temperature rise of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees. Of course, this is regionally variable. It will be higher in the north, not so in the south. If we select, say, a 3.5-degree temperature increase as being about the mean, water requirements would increase by about 25 per cent, evaporation rates would increase by about 25 per cent. This is quite a significant figure, and it is therefore reasonable to expect that in about 100 years, our evaporation rates will be about that much higher than what they are now.

This rise will largely offset reductions in water requirements from higher CO2 that plants will need. Therefore, it is expected that our water requirements may not necessarily rise due to higher temperatures, because those needs will be offset by higher CO2. However, evaporation from ponds, irrigation reservoirs, glaciers — evaporation that occurs not from plants but from free-water surfaces — will be greatly accelerated, and that is an important point of which we need to be aware.

There is also a concern that more rapid soil drying during mid-continental summers will cause greater risks of agricultural drought and forest fires, as well as decreased quantity and quality of water in reservoirs, ground water, et cetera.

On the other hand, higher temperatures are also expected to cause higher precipitation. In general, a 3.5-degree temperature rise, which is about the mid-range of what we expect over the next 100 years, will probably cause about an 8- to 10 per cent rise in precipitation. However, precipitation is not to be understood simply in terms of total amounts. It also has to be understood in terms of its variability and intensity. It is expected to become more variable. Generally speaking, more variable rainfall, even if everything else is equal, reduces the productivity of plants. It also increases erosion, so this is also a concern.

It is, therefore, very important that the effects of variable rainfall on productivity be reduced by soil- and water- conservation practices that maintain soil organic matter and improve water-use efficiency. These practices include primarily reduction of tillage, inclusion of pastures and legumes in rotations, improved irrigation water-use efficiency, reduction of summer fallow and improved use of nutrients. There is a whole range of agricultural practices that, I think, help to reduce the vulnerability of our ecosystems to the sort of variability in precipitation that may arise during climate change.

There are a number of other negative impacts. Higher temperatures raise respiration rates and, hence, loss of carbon to the atmosphere. This is especially critical in ecosystems where the mean annual temperature is 15 degrees or greater. These ecosystems would be found approximately from Tennessee-North Carolina south. Therefore, those more southern ecosystems will be impacted more negatively. As for tropical ecosystems, as I mentioned earlier, the general outlook for them under climate change is negative in terms of their productivity. On the other hand, the outlook for Canadian ecosystems tends to be more positive.

More frequent heat waves can cause heat stress in livestock and crops. This is something for which we need to be more prepared. As well, higher minimum temperatures, as has been mentioned earlier, allows for expanded ranges for pests and disease. For example, grasshoppers and potato beetles are moving in even more than the past, and this is of some concern.

The key points I should like to make in terms of expected climate change impacts during the 21st century are as follows. The frost-free season will be extended by about 40 days. Growing seasons are already lengthening by one to three days per decade, so this is a process that is already well in place. We may therefore need longer-maturing and heat-tolerant crop varieties. The replacement of crop varieties is an ongoing process in agriculture, but these are directions in which, perhaps, our breeding programs need to be going. This point, of course, has been raised earlier.

Seeding dates of annual crops will be about three weeks earlier than at present, so there is an entire adjustment of cropping calendars that will need to be considered. Regrowth of perennial crops will start two to three weeks earlier. As well, critical fall harvest dates — the dates during which harvest of perennials needs to be avoided in order to ensure over-winter reserves — will be two to three weeks later. This has implications for timing of grazing of animals on rangelands.

Spring wheat will likely be replaced by winter wheat through most of the Prairies. This offers opportunities for improved productivity and reduced environmental impact. On the other hand, it does involve a fundamental change in our cropping calendars and possibly our rotations.

There are opportunities for maize — corn — to replace other cereals and for soybeans to replace canola throughout the southern and central Prairies. There are now opportunities for grain production from new species, not widespread currently on the Prairies due to thermal constraints.

I think the forestry issue was addressed earlier, so we will move on from that.

Some other key points: We can expect the average yields of canola and cereals in Western Canada to increase from current levels by 10 to 30 per cent by the end of this century.

The Chairman: For what reason?

Mr. Grant: It is because of the elevated CO2, because of the elevated temperatures. We are a thermally constrained part of the world, so the elevated CO2, the elevated temperature, presupposes that precipitation will rise to some extent. The confidence with which we can make that statement is less than that with which we can observe that the temperature and CO2 will rise. Hence, there is a question there that needs to be firmed up.

This increase will likely be larger in central and cooler regions. For example, Peace River has been identified as an area in which productivity gains will be in the upper end of that range. On the other hand, southern Saskatchewan has been identified as an area where increases may be at the lower end of that range or even nonexistent. This is because some of the current models do not predict much of a rainfall rise for those parts of the world, which is unfortunate, because those are the dryer parts.

The warmer regions and the dryer regions may experience very small increases or no increases, the cooler, more humid regions, greater increases. This is a consensus from a number of national and international studies, as well as research conducted at the University of Alberta. This is really a summary of a lot of research.

You asked about the basis for this rise. The magnitude of this increase will depend on the amounts by which temperature and precipitation do rise. Let us take a couple of scenarios, for example, southern Saskatchewan. If temperatures were to rise by that 3-degree figure but precipitation were not to rise as is currently projected by some climate models, then average yields will rise only marginally, but their variability will increase. There may be increased incidences of crop failure. Overall average yields on a longer-term basis are likely to remain the same, but the interannual variability will be larger. I think this has implications for insurance schemes, as well as issues of storage, transportation in order to stabilize marketing and supply in the presence of more variable production.

On the other hand, if temperatures were to rise by 6 degrees but precipitation were not to rise — this is the extreme upper end of some of the current projections for this area, so this might be called a worst-case scenario — there is a possibility that average yields will decline and crop failure will become more frequent. This is an area that is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Grassland productivity will likely increase by 20 to 25 per cent. There are issues of changes in species composition that we need to keep an eye on. This is not an area that is strongly or well understood at this stage.

If we look at North America as a whole, much of the increased agricultural productivity that is projected vis-à-vis climate change in North America is expected to be realized by northward expansion of cultivation. It is possible that as much as 60 million hectares of land will become available for agriculture by the end of this century. We need to be aware, however, that much of this land has soils that are not very fertile, and therefore their management is going to be a key issue. There is corresponding northward expansions in Siberia that will become possible, as well.

On the other hand, this expansion will be offset by loss of cultivatable areas in many regions in Africa. I am going a little bit internationally here, and I hope that is of interest to the committee. Some of the current international projections are that there may be substantial losses of land, of cultivatable area, in most regions of Africa, northeastern Brazil, and Australia.

These are zones that are at the margins of what is called the intertropical convergence zone. This is a zone of intense rainfall that moves north and south and is driven by orbital geometry areas. Many Mediterranean areas, for example, which are in the northern periphery of that zone or the southern periphery of that zone, as well as some tropical areas, are expected to experience reductions in precipitation and consequent losses of cultivatable land and reductions in productivity. This is of some importance, possibly for humanitarian reasons, certainly for trade issues.

The Chairman: You covered an awful lot in a very short period, and for that we thank you.

Senator Tkachuk: I just have one question, actually. Given that at the beginning of the last century there were no planes and that today we are sending satellites to Pluto and outside of our own solar system, do you believe that technology will, over the next 100 years, providing we put our minds to it, reduce CO2 emissions? Is that a hopeless pipedream?

Mr. Grant: Just to clarify, are these industrial emissions to which you are referring or ecological emissions?

Senator Tkachuk: Well, how much is caused by something we cannot stop, and how much is caused by something we can? We can only do what we can do. I do not know. We interfere with nature many times, so maybe we can do it again.

Mr. Grant: I could go on and on about the squanderous levels of industrial emissions in this country. There are vast opportunities for reducing our industrial emissions with only modest changes to our lifestyles. Hence, there are huge opportunities for complying with Kyoto by reducing our industrial emissions. This is perhaps outside the purview of an agriculture and forestry committee.

The Chairman: At what cost, though? Certainly cost is always the big question in terms of reducing industrial emissions.

Mr. Grant: There is not a major cost, certainly, to my lifestyle, in switching from an SUV to a fuel-economy car or turning down my thermostat by a few degrees. I am running a little bit off topic here..

Senator Tkachuk: Well, this is kind of important for us. I know we are looking at the effects of climate change, but almost everybody who appears here says that most of the effects, and some may be natural, are a result of CO2 being released in the atmosphere, hence Kyoto and all these other things. If that is what is happening, then it is something that we should be talking about.

We are a pretty big player in this CO2 emission game. China, India and all these other countries are belching out CO2 with great frequency, but there does not seem to be any concern that they reduce it. Actually, Europe is not doing that great.

Mr. Grant: Their per capita emissions are a fraction of ours. It should be understood that their per capita emissions are perhaps half of ours in North America — and they live pretty well, I think.

Senator Tkachuk: However, they also live in very concentrated areas too. The population there is 300 million people. It would be difficult for me to drive around in a little mini in the wintertime. As a matter of fact, I do not like driving a little mini in the wintertime, but they can do it, and good for them.

Do you think that we can actually achieve any of these goals?

Mr. Grant: Well, we will get back to agriculture and forestry, perhaps. It is very important to know that the exchange of carbon dioxide between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere globally is about 20 times our industrial emissions. If we put out, say, about 6 billion tonnes a year of carbon industrially, ecosystems themselves respire about 20 times that annually into the atmosphere. Now, they fix about 20 times that, so they are in approximate balance. The exchange of carbon dioxide between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere dwarfs our puny emissions. The problem is that our emissions are not offset by any counteractive process in our industrial economy. We only put out; we do not take up.

There is, however, considerable opportunity for us to manage our ecosystems so as to enhance that massive uptake of which they are already capable and perhaps, therefore, offset some of our emissions. This is the whole business of carbon credits, which is emerging. It is really quite a large area of research in the scientific community, and is emerging as, perhaps, even an economic issue in the agriculture and forest industry.

There are opportunities through management — well, let us even stick to agriculture — our agricultural ecosystems in such a way that we can maintain and even enhance the level of carbon sequestration of which they are currently capable. There are lot of good reasons to that. One, we offset, albeit partially, our industrial emissions. Two, the vulnerability of these ecosystems to climate variability, something which is projected to increase over the next century, is very dependent on the quality of the soils on which we grow our food, and that quality is directly related to the amount of carbon that we can store in those soils. Soils that store carbon are able to store more water; they are able to transfer that water; and they are much more effective at buffering the variability of climate, and especially precipitation, than our soils, which have been allowed to be degraded through the absence of soil and water conversation.

Senator Tkachuk: Even though we are studying climate change and agriculture, we are the only committee in Parliament, as far as I know, that is doing any work of this kind. This committee's report may be very valuable to Parliament.

Senator Wiebe: Coming from Saskatchewan, of course, my concern is how the adaptation will affect my province. However, we also have to look at how the adaptation and the climate change is going to affect our country as a whole and its ability to feed itself.

From what I can understand from the presentations that have been made to us by C-CIARN and other scientists and research people is that, in terms of agriculture, Canada is going to be a net benefactor. There may be areas where we will not be able to produce grains, but there will be areas where we will be able to continue to produce and other areas that will open up to us. Is this a fair assessment?

Mr. Grant: The short answer is, yes, that is a fair assessment.

Senator LaPierre: Professor, I do not have the knowledge of my colleagues, nor do I have many opinions, but I have an enormous amount of sentiment. We have heard an enormous amount of scientific appraisal of this situation. The human question is this: Is this a disaster to which science has no answer, where only human beings in their hearts have an answer? Is this a disaster?

Mr. Grant: I think there has been a tendency on the part of some in the scientific community to overstate the potentially disastrous impacts of climate change on our terrestrial ecosystems. These projections of massive drought across the Prairies leading to, possibly, economic collapse of the agricultural sector is an overstatement, in my opinion. The message we should be taking away from climate change is that there are risks in certain parts of the country. I gave some examples in my presentation.

There are, however, opportunities. A key issue is adaptation to those changes that are going to occur. With foresight, with planning and with the appropriate adoption of both mitigative strategies and adaptive strategies, there is no need for a disaster to occur.

Senator LaPierre: Does the adaptation we talk about demand a change in human values, a change of human nature? Or do we say to ourselves, ``All right, technology will save us; pour our money into technology; it will save us at the end of the day''?

Mr. Grant: We need to be aware of the fact that the ecosystems in which we live and upon which we depend for our food, our fibre or, if we expand our purview a little bit, our fish, sustain us; however, they themselves must be sustained. Because we are the primary disturber of these ecosystems, it is incumbent upon us to disturb to the point necessary for our sustenance, but not to disturb in such a way that these ecosystems become incapable of sustaining that productivity in the future. This whole question of climate change makes this a more imperative issue.

Senator LaPierre: Will the technology do it?

Mr. Grant: No, I do not think so. I do not think this is primarily a technological issue. This is an issue of living in balance with our ecosystems. That balance is going to change as climates evolve. We must understand the change in that balance and maintain that balance.

Senator Gustafson: In terms of what has happened, I go back on our own farming practice. My grandfather came from Illinois. He first went to Yorkton, but he could not grow wheat there because it was too cold, so he bought a farm right on the U.S. border. In my experience, we could not grow rapeseed, or they told us we could not grow rapeseed, but in the last 10 years, we have grown canola, which is rapeseed. In the last three years or four years, they are growing canola in North Dakota and South Dakota, if you will. Hence, technology and the varieties have stayed ahead of climate change.

Maybe, just maybe, we will have to move to a softer variety of wheat, one that will yield in warmer climates. What I am saying is that the experience of the past 50 years has been that the advancement in better varieties scientifically has stayed way ahead of climate change.

Mr. Grant: Absolutely. There is very strong evidence that global temperatures have warmed by at least 0.6 of a degree Celsius since the middle of the last century. There is a very strong warming trend in progress. This is evident in the recession of glaciers. Certainly, the temperature records very clearly indicate that warming is already in progress. The extent to which this can be attributed to rising CO2 levels is under discussion, but certainly this warming has led to a diversification of opportunity in agriculture, absolutely. We are starting to see winter wheat, even in the Prairies, which back in the 1960s was unheard of. I have heard talk of winter canola moving north —

Senator Gustafson: They are trying it.

Mr. Grant: Yes. There are still some limitations there. These directions to which you refer are expected to continue. Certainly, though, warming is in progress, and people can adapt to this warming. I think there is a real value to looking into the future to see where this warming is going to go.

One of the key concerns we need to be aware be is that as ecosystems transition from their current state to a warmer state this transition may not necessarily be uniform, smooth. There are, for example, thresholds through which we go where suddenly processes start to change, and you move up to a different sort of threshold. This can involve comparatively sudden changes to which we may not be able to adapt unless we are aware that this adaptation may be necessary.

Yes, your observations are absolutely correct. There is currently a northward expansion of varieties and crop types. This has been in place for at least the last 50 years in response to warming that has already occurred. This process is expected to continue.

Senator Wiebe: That adaptation that has taken place by farmers over the last 100 years took place because agriculture had time to adapt. If I recall your comments, the temperature has risen 1 degree in the last 100 years.

Mr. Grant: That is the upper end of it.

Senator Wiebe: You are now saying that in the next 100 years it is going to triple, at a minimum up to 3.5 per cent, possible 6 per cent. Those are pretty rapid temperature changes. Can the adaptation that we used in the last 100 years apply to the increase in rapid acceleration that is going to be happening in the months or the years ahead?

Mr. Grant: That is really why we are here, is it not? I think our best likelihood in light of historically unprecedented rises in temperature is to be able to try to predict the adaptation that is going to be required. That is really our best hope. The rates at which temperatures are projected to rise are geologically unprecedented.

Although there is some degree of confidence in the climate projections that are being made, there is an uncertainty factor, because ecosystems are known to respond to these perturbations not in a step-wise sort of increase, but they move through thresholds, much as, for example, El Niño arises from a threshold development. Droughts occur. Droughts are, in a sense, a threshold response to changes in precipitation patterns. There are thresholds through which ecosystems can move that may require very rapid adaptation. That is what we need to be planning for.

Senator Fairbairn: In your studies, have you dealt with wetlands at all?

Mr. Grant: Yes. That is a very key area of research, absolutely. Not myself directly, but colleagues with whom I work have certainly been involved in that, yes.

How are they expected to respond to climate change? Is that your question?

Senator Fairbairn: Yes.

Mr. Grant: There are a couple of key concerns. One, increased evaporation rates from these wetlands may possibly lower the water tables in these wetlands. This will lead to an accelerated oxidation of the carbon material of which they consist. This could lead to very rapid carbon losses out to the atmosphere. It could also lead to increased incidences of peat fires.

Yes, that is an area of concern, the possible drying of wetlands. As evaporation rates rise — I mentioned that a 3- degree rise in temperature, for example, would lead to about a 25 per cent increase in annual evaporation rates. On the other hand, we are looking at, perhaps, at best, an 8 to 10 per cent increase in precipitation. For plants, that may not be such a concern. However, if we are talking about open bodies of water or the sources from which wetlands draw their reserves, there is a very strong possibility that those reserves may be lost, may evaporate. This could lead to a subsidence of water tables, a very rapid oxidation of carbon.

Wetlands are considered to be endangered, perhaps more so than agricultural ecosystems; that is a particular area of vulnerability. There is a lot of research ongoing at present in just what this means.

The Chairman: Thanks very much, Mr. Grant.

Our final witness this morning is Mr. Greg McKinnon. Please proceed, Mr. McKinnon.

Mr. Greg McKinnon, Forest Sector Coordinator, Canadian Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Research Network: I am joined today by Mr. Kelvin Hirsch, who you heard from earlier, who is the C-CIARN forest sector scientific director.

In my presentation today, I want to talk about three main elements related to climate change in Canada's forest sector. First, I will briefly discuss mitigation. While I do not wish to dwell on this aspect of the climate change issue, I do think it is important to discuss the mitigative role that Canada's forests are being expected to play in helping to ameliorate global warming and to place the role and importance of adaptation in context.

Second, I will briefly discuss impacts and adaptation, or perhaps more precisely, vulnerabilities and adaptation. Since this topic has been more than adequately covered by others before me, I will confine my comments to the overall objectives of adaptation and will not go into detail and specifics.

Third, and most important from my perspective, I will discuss the issue of making climate change adaptation a reality. I will cover two aspects: one, adaptive strategies and forest policies practices and research; and two, delivery mechanisms. Last, I will summarize my presentation.

With respect to the question of mitigation or adaptation, this is the only graph that I will show today. You may have seen it already, I do not know. However, in order to set the stage for both mitigation and impacts and adaptation, I think it is important to understand the relationship between the two as well as the lingering effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

The graph I have up on the screen was developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and was published in the 2001 synthesis report. The graph is a generic one showing expected temperature effects, the red line, after an assumed stabilization within 50 years from now and a reduction to a very small fraction of current levels of global CO2 emissions, the brown line, within the next 150 years or so. That represents the mitigation side of the equation, and it is vitally important.

From an impacts and adaptation perspective, notice that even after CO2 emissions are reduced and atmospheric conditions stabilize, surface air temperature lags behind but continues to rise slowly for a century or more and in fact does not show any sign of decrease over many centuries.

To summarize the graph, mitigation and adaptation are both vitally important and are complementary. Adaptation is required no matter what mitigation scenario is implemented and its importance and difficulty increases as mitigation is delayed or remains unimplemented.

On the mitigation side, the Kyoto Protocol recognizes that carbon uptake in forests can be used to offset emissions when calculating a country's net CO2 contributions to the atmosphere.

In the forest sector, there are two main elements in carbon management. The first is decreased emissions. Decreased emissions can come, for example, from reductions in use of fossil fuels in the forest industry or decreased soil disturbance. The second element in carbon management is increased carbon capture and storage. The attractiveness of forests in this regard is that forests sequester carbon through photosynthesis and store carbon as biomass, both above and below ground.

Some key questions, however, with respect to the role of forests and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions are as follows: Will Canada's forests be a net sink or a net source for carbon? Will management for carbon be in concert or in conflict with other management objectives?

With respect to the first question, Canada's forests have changed over time from being a strong sink for carbon to becoming a small source of carbon as a consequence of large-scale disturbances such as fire and insects. The probability of increased carbon release in the future appears to be much greater than that of increased carbon accumulation. Put another way, on the global scale, Canada's forests are likely to be the victims of climate change rather than its saviour.

With respect to the second question, forest management, especially on public land, encompasses a wide and varied set of objectives. There is significant potential for conflict between management objectives for carbon and for other attributes. On the emissions side, for example, there is likely to be increased demand for biomass fuel to offset use of fossil fuels. Such potential biomass fuels as harvest slash and standing dead trees often have significant biodiversity in soil nutrient value.

Similarly, on the carbon capture and storage side, carbon management may favour vigorous, fast-growing stands, and I would argue that such management may be at odds with management for wood fibre quality or the biodiversity associated with, for example, old growth forests.

With respect to the impact of climate change on Canada's forests, again, I will not go into detail. As I indicated earlier in my presentation, I am fully satisfied with the treatment of this topic by others before me. In general, forests appear to be most vulnerable to change during regeneration and through the impact of climate on disturbances such as fire and insect disturbance.

With respect to the former, that is, regeneration, drought is expected to be the main cause of regeneration failure. With respect to the latter, climate change is expected to increase the rate and severity of natural disturbances with a couple of consequences. One, carbon dioxide emissions from the forest will increase, and two, disturbance will accelerate the rate of change in forest structure and profile.

Established forests are relatively resilient to the effects of climate change, but when disturbed by, for example, fire, they will reset to an early successional state, at which time non-targeted and invasive species may gain the upper hand. In short, as climate is the cause of change, fire, insects and disease are the agents.

The direct impact of climate change on the sustainability of Canada's forests has national and global implications. Canada's forests represent a significant percentage of the carbons stored globally in forests. The change in status of these forests towards becoming a greater source of carbon rather than a sink will have implications to the global CO2 balance sheet.

In terms of adapting to climate change, there are a couple of objectives to keep in mind as we manage our forests into the future. The objective of sustainable forest management is to maintain and enhance the long-term health of forest ecosystems for the benefit of all living things; the objective of sustainable communities is to provide environmental, economic, social and cultural opportunities for present and future generations. In the context of forest- based communities — that is, the maintenance of stable communities that can continue to derive social, economic and cultural benefits from the forest — neither of these two concepts is new. What is new, perhaps, in the face of climate change is thinking of these as being two parts of the same whole. Perhaps we should be managing our forests with our communities in mind and, similarly, managing our communities with our forests in mind.

What should we as a society do in the face of present and foreseen climate change impacts on our forests? I think that there are a number of things that we can and should do. I have organized these loosely into three main themes — forest policy, forest practices and forest research.

With respect to forest policy, firstly, let me explain that the definition of forest policy used here encompasses both the legal and moral framework under which forest management occurs. First, there needs to be an increased awareness of the importance and immediacy of climate change issues to forest policy-makers and managers. Senior decision makers need to become convinced of the reality of climate change and the significance of the issues that it presents to forest management.

Second, there needs to be increased recognition that forest policy may need to change dramatically to allow adaptation to climate change. One example might be the intentional introduction of a tree species to an area that has never seen them before. Third, the linkages between policy and research need to be strengthened. Policy and research must feed each other. This really defines the concept of adaptive management. Fourth, there needs to be an increased emphasis placed on the application of vulnerability approach to climate change impacts and adaptation. The vulnerability approach de-emphasizes precise knowledge of future climate; rather, it emphasizes assessment of a sector's vulnerabilities to present climate, then layers on expected changes. Emphasis is placed on managing risk and strategic planning.

Fifth, there needs to be an increased focus on incorporation of multi-stakeholder interests and forest policy development and reconciliation of conflicting forest-management objectives, especially on public land.

With respect to forest practices, again, the definition used here encompasses the full range of management techniques developed and implemented to meet stated objectives. First, manage for resiliency, flexibility and diversity. The key message is that, when managing under uncertainty, keep your options open. Second, initiate forest practices now that make sense from a number of perspectives, including climate change. For example, manage for fires, insects and windthrow. The key element here is to manage to minimize the risk of catastrophic disturbance from these agents. Third, apply adaptive management strategies, initiate, monitor, reassess and revise. Forest practices, forest policy and forest research are all linked in an adaptive management approach. Fourth, pursue multi-stakeholder support for contentious forest practices designed to ameliorate effects of climate change. Again, I will use the example of introducing an exotic tree species.

On the research side, the key message is that research needs to be linked directly to forest management policy and practices. One, there is a need to determine key knowledge gaps and research priorities linked to on-the-ground forest management policy and practices. Two, there is a need for researchers to more effectively communicate research results to forest users. Three, there needs to be increased focus on adaptation. To date, much climate change research in the forest sector has been focussed on mitigation and impacts rather than on adaptation. The latter needs to include research into motivating factors and incentives for change. Four, there needs to be increased capacity and financial resources dedicated to impacts and adaptation. In my view, present capacity both in human and financial terms is clearly insufficient.

I will now talk about delivery mechanisms. On the research side, the Canadian Forest Service is very well positioned to deliver on impacts and adaptation research in the forest sector and should be at the core of any enhanced program in the future. The department has a long history of world-class climate change research in the physical, biological and socio-economic aspects of forests and forestry. As well, it has the advantage of being national in scope and well connected to both the forest industry and provincial governments.

The Sustainable Forest Management Network, which is part of the National Centres of Excellence program and located at the University of Alberta as well as other universities not part of the network, should be an important part of the climate change impacts and adaptation research solution. To date, however, most universities in Canada, including those in the network, have focussed largely on the mitigation and carbon management side of the climate change issue. In my view, both the network and individual universities should be encouraged to have a greater focus on impacts and adaptation. The Sustainable Forest Management Network has the advantage of being national in scope, while other universities have a more regional focus.

Let me now move to the Model Forest Network. I want to dwell on this a bit. Canada's Model Forest Network represents an initiative in building partnerships locally, nationally and internationally to generate new ideas and on- the-ground solutions to sustainable forest management issues.

If you will remember earlier in my presentation, I stated the twin objectives of sustainable forest management and sustainable forest-based communities. The Model Forest Network, I think, is uniquely positioned and perhaps tailor- made to demonstrate climate change-related adaptive forest management and adaptive forest community techniques and practices. It should be an important part of the solution.

The next topic is provincial forest research branches and organizations. Many provincial forest research organizations have declined in strength in recent years. However, such organizations have the distinct advantage of being directly connected to provincial policy development and delivery of sustainable forest practices. These organizations should be strengthened.

On the topic of policy, again, as I indicated previously, the definition of policy used here includes both the legal and moral framework under which forest management occurs. Of course, with respect to the legal framework, the Constitution Act confers exclusive authority with respect to the development, conservation and management of forestry resources to the provinces. However, with respect to the moral framework or social licence, a number of other forces and players are directly involved in shaping forest policy; all have a bearing on how forests are ultimately managed. These include certification bodies, for example, the Forest Stewardship Council, the Model Forest Network, non-governmental organizations, industry, and international markets.

On the international scene and in addition to markets, the moral framework includes various international commitments, for example, the International Biodiversity Convention.

With respect to forest practices, forest practices, simply put, are the on-the-ground application of forest- management policy. Again, these are driven by both legal and moral obligations and codes of good practice.

On public land, multiple forest-management objectives are often in play, which ultimately dictate appropriate practices. Some mechanisms for delivery include industry, private landowners and provincial governments.

In addition to the above, I think that C-CIARN forests should have a continuing role: first, to increase the awareness of forest-related issues, involving impacts of and adaptation to climate change; second, to enhance the capacity for and coordination of research on climate change impacts and adaptation pertaining to Canada's forests; and third, to facilitate communication about the impacts of climate change and options for adaptation among researchers, forest managers, policy-makers and forest-based communities.

To summarize, climate change is real and temperature effects can be expected to linger for centuries. There is a much greater probability that Canada's forests will be a net source rather than a net sink for carbon. Options for mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions through forest management are limited and subject to conflict with other management objectives. More research linked to policies and practices is required on impacts and adaptation. Forest policies and practices should be adapted in recognition of present and expected climate change impacts, again, the vulnerability approach. Forest management and forest-based communities to be sustainable must incorporate climate change adaptive strategies.

Mr. Hirsch and I will be pleased to answer any questions you might have.

The Chairman: Thank you for that very excellent presentation. Mr. Hirsch, of course, is no stranger to us, having appeared earlier this morning.

Senator Fairbairn: Prior to travelling, our committee received background information on this subject matter. In my mind, one of the most vulnerable areas in this whole equation seems to be the forests. I am quite taken with what you are saying about how we develop the policy to surround them, and you keep using the word ``moral.'' I am wondering if you could expand on that a bit. When you talk about the moral impact of this, are you thinking in terms of the ultimate pressure of climate change on forests resulting in a profound — or could result, if not guided the way you are obviously thinking of — stress on the sustainabilities of the communities, the lifestyle, the people who are involved in this industry? Are we starting to see the thin edge of the wedge?

Mr. McKinnon: That is an excellent question, and previous speakers this morning have alluded to the rapidity of change, which is, and we expect to be, unprecedented.

Of course, there will be forests. Whether those forests in 10 or 20 or 30 years will look like the forests have looked in the last 100 is the big question. Of course, communities have developed around the forest as we have seen it over the last 100 to 200 years. They have developed socially, and they developed economically around the forest as they have seen it. As that forest changes, and if it changes radically, there will be significant questions about whether our adaptive responses to that can be quick enough on the social and economic fronts to be able to contend with it.

To get back with the earlier part of your question, when I was discussing both the legal and moral framework, forest management is a very complex area and certainly just not governed by the legal framework. Much of the forces that are at play in terms of forest management involve international forces, certification of products that come from the forest, and, of course, climate change will have, perhaps, profound effects on international market forces around the forest as well.

Some areas of the world may do better than others under climate change, and if we expect Canada, for example, especially in continental and boreal forests of Canada, to do relatively worse than other areas, then that will affect our ability to sell our products internationally. Of course, all of those things come down to a level of affecting industry and the communities that have developed around that industry in Canada.

I think there is significant potential for what you described as profound effects.

Senator Fairbairn: How do we as a committee, in terms of talking about adaptation and trying not to forestall something that is inevitable, but how to manage it, include, best include, recommend the inclusion of the people who are in a sense the primary stakeholders, the people who work with the forest, the people who live there, who have built communities around it?

Again, it comes back to that word ``communication.'' A lot of us, myself certainly, are relative rookies on this whole subject. We need to be taught. Do you have a thought about how you connect that link so it is not just policy-makers, government and industry advising the people who are living there what it is they ought to be doing? How can we get relevant feedback, not before the game's all over and the decision is made? How do we factor in this communication? These issues are complicated; as such, the real life part of it has to be factored in at an early stage.

Mr. McKinnon: It is interesting that you raise this point. Last evening, I gave my presentation to my wife to have a look at, to see what she thought about it, and she said, ``People need to know this stuff.''

Senator Fairbairn: Exactly, and they have to understand this stuff.

Mr. McKinnon: It is a significant question. To the degree that we are able to adapt to what is coming, we need to work together. Communities need to work with policy-makers and decision makers. One of my concerns is that the decision makers and senior people in governments do not seem to be on the page yet in terms of the severity and significance of this issue.

Hence, it is no wonder to me that laypersons in communities and others in industry are not taking this as seriously as they need to. I probably do not have a good answer to the question of how we do that, but I think we need to communicate this better, and we need to work together to try to find whatever solutions can be found.

The Chairman: Mr. Hirsch, do you want to add to that?

Mr. Hirsch: One of the things we need to think about is that adaptation is a social process. Even though we are talking about natural ecosystems changing, adapting to that is a social process. The engagement of people requires us to study people and human behaviour and making this link with the social scientist. Just like we study new ways of growing trees and so on, we need to study ways of getting the engagement of the public. There are some unique processes out there that people are looking at for this whole process of public advisory, capturing collective knowledge, and so on. The area of adaptation is a science unto itself, one that needs people to come forward into it. There is some work going on within government, within universities and so on.

Your question is a good one, because we are only going to be able to adapt if we can look at what we need to do to change as humans and in terms of human behaviour. It appears that some of the early results of this work is that it is the connection, the very simple connection from a scientist talking about global models to the person on the ground who sees in the last few years a change in what is happening in their own place — the old adage of walking a mile in someone else's shoes. That connection seems to very easily bridge the gap between people thinking on global scales and those working or being affected locally.

Mr. McKinnon: If I might add just one more comment. In my view, people are thirsting for this kind of knowledge. People have been given a certain amount of information about Kyoto and climate change, and I think that there is thirsting for more technical information about what that will really do to, in our example, forests.

The public is ready for this kind of information, but I do not know that I have your answer about how to get it to them. As a research community, we have not been very good in the past about communicating research and research results to the public in general, and I think we need to be much better at it. The time is right; the public is ready for this now.

Senator Fairbairn: Just one final comment, if I may. In terms of climate change — and I am not talking about having marches and this thing — there needs to be a table where conversations can take place. We have only been at this for a few weeks, but I am impressed with the attitude of the people that we are hearing from within the science community and government. They are telling us the same thing, that they need to be helped by people whose lives this is affecting and their expertise in living in these environments. There has to be a common table for these discussions to take place at in the future.

Mr. McKinnon: We at C-CIARN are very much trying to do that. We had a workshop in Prince George last week where we talked about many of these issues; the participants came from a number of different backgrounds, including environmental groups, First Nations, the forest industry and the research community. It is a small start, but we had a very good conversation. There is a real sense that there is no moral high ground on this particular issue. This is a society-caused issue. We have to work together to fix it.

Although many of the past issues in forest management tended to be polarized, there is a sense that this is in which we really can pull together to find some solutions. I am hopeful that that is the case. We have only just started. We have a long way to go, but this is definitely an area where we really need to put a lot of effort.

Senator Wiebe: All the presentations by C-CIARN have been excellent. When you look at the projected pictures of Canada in terms of the effect of climate change, especially as it relates to our forests, there will be some positive areas and some negative areas. It appears to me that our forests in Western Canada are really the greatest forests at risk, in terms of Canada.

I am just wondering whether you people have had any opportunity to do any scientific study on the stresses our forests will be put under with this climate change. I am talking about stresses like drought, insects, disease, forest fires, and this sort of thing. What will the cumulative effect be on our forests? Those kind of stresses will be more frequent than in the past. Have you had an opportunity to look into that as yet?

Mr. McKinnon: Yes. Many of the areas that you just described are many of the areas of primary research. There is research ongoing in the southern fringes of the boreal forest, looking at drought stress and what it is doing to the southern fringes of the boreal forest. There is also a lot of research into forest fires, natural disturbance, insect disturbance, and those sorts of things. That is an example of the kinds of research projects that are going on, and much of it out of the Northern Forestry Centre here in Edmonton.

Senator Wiebe: Some of those are conducted in the models that you have established. Have you been able to study a group of trees that will suffer all of those stresses within a period of time to see what kind of effect that tree will have?

For example, one model may look at the stress a tree will suffer from insects; another model will look at the stress from lack of moisture; another model may look at fire. What happens to that poor tree if in a period of, say, five years it comes under all of those stresses? Will that tree be able to survive?

Mr. Hirsch: There are some studies that are looking at all of the stresses together. I think your point is very good about moving beyond just the modelling process and putting things on the ground. Some of the experiments are doing exactly that, doing work in the field, looking at how they are responding in the natural environment. We are looking not just at whether certain kinds of poplars will survive drought but whether insects are going to be influencing them at the same time.

When we talk broader landscape levels, then we move into processes such as fire and so on. Those are items that are a little more difficult to study but which need to be monitored. As areas are burned, we have plots, and we are monitoring the re-vegetation of those areas — in other words, looking at how fast this is happening and where.

Hence, there are a number of active studies occurring across Western Canada in that regard.

Senator Wiebe: That is good to hear.

Senator Fairbairn: What about wildlife that is sustained by and itself sustains the forest?

Mr. Hirsch: When Mr. McKinnon and I refer to forests, we are talking about the entire ecosystem, the biodiversity and the various species that rely on it. Hence, the interactions between the vegetation and wildlife species as well as other components of the ecosystem are being looked at simultaneously.

Mr. McKinnon: I am a biologist by training, so it is certainly one of the areas that is of interest to me. One of the concerns around the issue of climate change is the speed and rapidity of change and the concern that ecosystems may not be able to keep up with the pace of change. Vegetation may shift, and some species are able to move more quickly than others and, hence, will be able to move into other areas while other species will not.

We expect to see fragmentation of ecosystems and then introduction of new species and exotic species being more the order of the day. There is a serious concern about how wildlife will be affected because of the speed of change that is expected.

Senator Hubley: You mentioned that one of the ways that you are able to communicate with the stakeholders is through workshops. You referred to a workshop in Prince George, I believe. Would you tell us something about that workshop, how well attended it was and who attended it.

Mr. McKinnon: The workshop took place last week. There were 140 or so registered participants. We invited environmental groups, representatives from the forest industry, First Nations, consultants who work in the forest industry, government people from every province Quebec and west, and two territories. There were a number of the research organizations affiliated with provinces, as well as the Canadian Forest Service and many of the other research organizations.

The mornings were structured for presentations of the research, as we know it, around climate change and its effects on forests and what the major disturbances are expected to be. The afternoon session was dedicated to determining where the knowledge gaps are, what the research priorities should be, and acknowledging that we need to work together to arrive at solutions related to adaptation.

The feedback about the approach we took was positive. It is not often that we try to connect the research community with people who are actually out on the ground, either in a community sense or an industry sense. It was an excellent forum.

Senator Chalifoux: I should like to know how many community people attended. I understand that you had researchers and the like, but what about the average person who will be seriously affected by this?

Mr. McKinnon: I do not know the exact numbers, but there were some. We invited, for example, the city council in Prince George. We also had representation from smaller communities, both from Alberta and from B.C. As well, there was participation from representatives of three of the four western model forests who are well connected to communities as well. In addition, many of the consultants and people who were there from environmental organizations are also resident in small communities and are very familiar with the forest issues. In total, we had quite good representation from small communities.

Mr. Hirsch: If I could just add, a few weeks ago we had a community-based event in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Perhaps Mr. McKinnon would like to just comment on that, because it is related to your question.

Mr. McKinnon: In conjunction with the Manitoba Model Forest, we have held two workshops in Manitoba, and there are more to come. One was based in the agroforestry community of Lac du Bonnet, in eastern Manitoba. That event was well attended by the community. We presented some of what I presented here.

We also held an event at a First Nations community, Little Black River, in Manitoba.

Hence, we are trying to move on all of those fronts, but there are a lot out there. We can only be in one place at one time, but we are certainly trying to engage all of those communities. We really do need to focus on small forest-based communities, because they are the ones that are really going to be most affected.

Senator Hubley: What is your opinion on the importance of having local and regional weather forecasting stations, to help you in your efforts, I guess, to identify the impacts and then to help us adapt?

Mr. McKinnon: From my perspective it is important in being able to increase the precision of the modelling around climate change. Obviously, the more stations we have, the better off we will be with longer records.

In my presentation, I stressed that even if we do not have precise knowledge of climate change we need to move on some of the vulnerabilities in the forest sector. We know what those are, and we know that, as climate changes, whether to a larger or lesser degree, there are some significant, particular issues that we can move on now.

There is a desire on behalf of many forest companies, for example, to know what the effect of climate change will be on their operating area, which tends to be quite regional. However, many of the climate models are not yet very good at predicting at a very local level what is going to happen. Hence, the more stations we have, the more precisions we can get on our climate change model, the easier it will be to bring some of the players in and convince them in terms of their need to become involved and to pay attention to the issues. I think certainly that is a concern.

Senator LaPierre: Since the beginning of this exercise, I seem to have had only one issue in my mind, which has to do with people, and it is based on the premise that this is the issue that will test our souls. It will demand the resolution of it, will demand enormous changes in the way we govern ourselves, in the way we relate to other countries, in the way we relate to nature and in the way we relate to each other. It will demand enormous changes in mindset; it will also demand of us not an adaptation but a creation of a new way of life.

We are in the midst of a time that demands a revolution. If I were religious, I would say a spiritual revolution, but I do not understand spiritual in terms of religious. Therefore, I have been pleading, sir, since the beginning of this, why not have interdisciplinary studies? Where is the social scientist? Where is the theologian? Where is the philosopher? Where is the poet? Where is the musician? Where are the young?

The experts can give us some information, but then the social scientists and the humanists could answer Senator Fairbairn's and others questions.

I am asking you to get your act together and to organize the interdisciplinary nature of this issue; otherwise, all of this is useless, utterly and completely useless. All we have to do in our report is to publish the record of your research, magnificent and glorious as it is.

At the end of the day, we have done that, as you reminded me, with Kyoto. We did not involve the people; yet, we will demand of them enormous sacrifices and sums of money in order to be able to achieve our end.

I beg of you, sir, you and your institution, which is a great institution, get the poet. Get the poet.

Mr. McKinnon: I agree. This is such a significant issue that we as a society really need to come to terms with. It is scary in many ways; its enormity is almost too big to grasp. We will only come to terms with it if we as a society pull together.

Obviously, we also have our own backgrounds, our own areas of expertise, and we try to do our little bit in that area of expertise, but it is really our society that needs to come to grips with what is happening.

The Chairman: Yesterday, in Saskatchewan, we heard from professors who had been studying this for years and years. Contrary to what you say, they say the opposite. You say that there is a much greater probability that Canada's forests will be a net source rather than a net sink for carbon. We were told that a lot of research has been done, that with the use of trees and the utilization of our forests they will, in fact, be a net sink.

Can you explain why your research is so different from what we heard yesterday?

Mr. McKinnon: I will try. My comments come directly from recently published research and literature. What it amounts to is that there may be some increased productivity of forests as a result of enhanced CO2 in the atmosphere, but even there, it is somewhat of a mixed bag, because we might not get increased productivity. Accordingly to the most recent published literature, those trees might be under greater stress as well and more subject to some insect infestations. However, essentially, what will drive whether forests are carbon sources or carbon sinks will be the effects of climate change itself on the forest. We expect climate change itself to increase the rates of natural disturbance such as fire, insects, wind events, and those sorts of things.

Those elements will actually cause a forest to discharge more CO2 on a net basis than it uptakes, so it is the increased frequency of natural disturbance that will move us more towards being a source than a sink for carbon.

The Chairman: Even with enhanced silviculture and enhanced planting in agricultural areas?

Mr. McKinnon: Well, certainly it is possible through afforestation to plant new forests and for those, obviously, through the process of photosynthesis to take carbon out of the air. The predominant thinking in the literature is that the natural disturbance from fire, insects and other agents will far outweigh what we can gain from that.

That is not to say that afforestation programs are not good in and of themselves. It certainly is a good thing to plant a forest where there has not been one for, perhaps, decades. There is an uptake of CO2. There are also other benefits from a hydrological point of view, from the point of view of shelter and those kinds of things. As well, that biomass that is being grown can also be used as biomass fuel to offset burning of fossil fuel.

There are many good reasons for afforestation programs. However, even with those, Canada's forests, from more recent published literature, is expected to be a net source of carbon. In fact, it is thought to be a net source now, and the thinking is that it will move more towards a source as climate changes.

The Chairman: I appreciate that answer. Thank you very much, Mr. McKinnon.

The committee adjourned.