Western Red Cedar is just one of many BC trees facing extinction

Maria Vinca / May 15, 2019

The Western Red Cedars species are declining due to climate change

The cause of stress is due to lack of moisture in recent years.

According to some experts, the species could completely vanish in some areas with shallow, dry, rocky soil if the current climate patterns continue.

The Western Red Cedar die-back is mostly seen in the south coast region, Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound and southeast of Vancouver Island.

Trees that experienced stress after last summer’s drought, haven’t survived the winter and as spring has arrived, instead of growing they are turning orange and dying instead.

“The reoccurring drought is what’s driving the mortality and its not what just happening in one year its whats happening every year”

Nick PageBiologist

Other native species are also in crisis

According to Page, its not just cedars that are declining. It’s also marginal trees such as pine and Douglas Fir that are on rocky or exposed sites that are showing signs of stress.

Page said, those species are “on the margin” of where they’re able to tolerate dry conditions. These species established in areas with more moisture 20 years ago. Now, with very little soil and rocky grounds, the trees are also starting to show signs of stress.

Page thinks that with the current climate conditions, we’re going to transition to having trees that are more open forests, more shrub communities and could lose forests completely.

The Western Cedar species is currently declining due to climate change
(Nick Page / Twitter)

Douglas Fir is one of many facing extinction
(Pixabay)

Page says there isn’t much people can do in order to save the dying species because they really depend on having wetter weather. He does believe there is potential they can recover if weather conditions improve.

According to Natural Resource Canada, tree mortality will likely increase in areas where extreme weather events such as droughts become more frequent They also say droughts are expected to become more frequent in the future.

These drastic changes could trigger increased episodes of forest decline in affected areas. This could pose challenges for forest management and the supply of forest resources and services, including carbon balance.