Canadian Forest Service Publications
Why we disagree about assisted migration: ethical implications of a key debate regarding the future of Canada's forest. 2011. Aubin, I.; Garbe, C.M.; Colombo,S.;Drever,C.R.; McKenney, D. W.; Messier, C.; Pedlar,J.; Saner,M.A.; Venier,L.; Wellstead, A.M.; Winder,R.; Witten, E.; Ste-Marie, C. The Forestry Chronicle, 87:755-765.
Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 33065
Assisted migration has been proposed as one tool to reduce some ofthe negative ecological consequences of climate change. The idea is to move species tolocations that could better suit them climatically inthe future. Although humanmediated movements are not a recent phenomenon, assisted migration haslately beenthe source ofdebate, in particular within conservation biology circles. In this paper, we outline the major perspectives that help define differing views on assisted migration and shed some light ontheethical roots ofthedebate in thecontext ofCanadian forests. We emphasize that there are many different forms ofassisted migration, each responding to different (often unstated) objectives and involving unique risks andbenefits, thus making the debate more nuanced than often portrayed. We point out certain seeming contradictions whereby thesame argument maybeusedto bothsupportandoppose assisted migration. The current debate on assisted migration primarilyfocuses on ecological risks and benefits; however, numerous uncertainties reduce our capacity to quantitatively assess these outcomes. In fact, muchof the debate canbe traced back to fundamen talperspectives on nature, particularly to the ethical question ofwhether to deliberately manage natural systems or allow them to adapt on theirown. Tofacilitate discussion, we suggest that the focus should move towards a clearer identification of values and objectives for assisted migration.