Non-Timber Forest Products, Maple Syrup and Climate Change


  • Brenda Lee Murphy Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Annette Rene Chretien Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Laura Jayne Brown University of Guelph


Non-timber forest products (NTFP), including maple syrup, are an important source of income in rural and remote spaces. NTFPs also contribute to other aspects of rural wellbeing including the provision of environmental services and opportunities for the development and maintenance of social capital and aesthetic/spiritual values. NFTPs are thought to be threatened by climate change, yet little research has been undertaken to assess the potential impacts and adaptive capacity of affected Canadian rural spaces. Maple syrup is one of Canada's most important NTFPs and an important resource in central Canada and Atlantic rural spaces. However, virtually no research has assessed the value of maple syrup as an NTFP, or the potential impact of climate change. This paper, which is part of a larger on-going study, will report on survey work that assessed perceptions of institutional contexts, climatic variability, climate change risk, and resiliency within the maple syrup industry. The results will be of interest to decision-makers in many areas including the maple syrup industry, Canadian rural policy and climate change policy. Drawing from the survey work and broader study findings, the paper identifies existing capabilities and challenges for dealing with climate change and outlines potential opportunities to increase the adaptive capacity of the maple syrup industry and rural spaces. Keywords: maple syrup, climate change, policy, adaptation, Canada, Ontario

Author Biography

Brenda Lee Murphy, Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Brenda L. Murphy is a tenured associate professor of Geography and Contemporary Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus. Using community-based research approaches, her work focuses on disaster risk and resiliency, emergency preparedness, community wellbeing, and exploring opportunities for adaptation in the context of climate change in rural areas of Ontario and other jurisdictions. Environmental justice and social capital frameworks underpin her work. Her research has encompassed many hazards including tornadoes (Pine Lake, AB), water contamination (Walkerton, ON), blackouts (North American eastern seaboard), and nuclear waste (Canada, USA, Sweden). Most recently, through a focus on maple syrup production, her work focuses on developing approaches to undertaking research across disciplines and cultures, particularly in the context of climate change. Her research has been supported by SSHRC grants and other funding and has resulted in multiple publications, conference presentations, technical reports and other dissemination venues.