This study explores potential adaptation approaches in planning and management that the United States Forest Service might adopt to help achieve its goals and objectives in the face of climate change. Availability of information, vulnerability of ecological and socio-economic systems, and uncertainties associated with climate change, as well as the interacting non-climatic changes, influence selection of the adaptation approach. Resource assessments are opportunities to develop strategic information that could be used to identify and link adaptation strategies across planning levels. Within a National Forest, planning must incorporate the opportunity to identify vulnerabilities to climate change as well as incorporate approaches that allow management adjustments as the effects of climate change become apparent. The nature of environmental variability, the inevitability of novelty and surprise, and the range of management objectives and situations across the National Forest System implies that no single approach will fit all situations. A toolbox of management options would include practices focused on forestalling climate change effects by building resistance and resilience into current ecosystems, and on managing for change by enabling plants, animals, and ecosystems to adapt to climate change. Better and more widespread implementation of already known practices that reduce the impact of existing stressors represents an important “no regrets” strategy. These management opportunities will require agency consideration of its adaptive capacity, and ways to overcome potential barriers to these adaptation options.
The forests of northern Wisconsin, a defining feature of the region’s landscape, are expected to undergo numerous changes in response to the changing climate. This document provides a collection of resources designed to help forest managers incorporate climate change considerations into management and devise adaptation tactics. It was developed in northern Wisconsin as part of the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework project and contains information from assessments, partnership efforts, workshops, and collaborative work between scientists and managers. The four interrelated chapters include: (1) a description of the overarching Climate Change Response Framework, a landscape-scale conservation approach also being expanded to other landscapes; (2) a “menu” of adaptation strategies and approaches that are directly relevant to forests in northern Wisconsin; (3) a workbook process to help incorporate climate change considerations into forest management planning and to assist land managers in developing groundlevel climate adaptation tactics for forest ecosystems; and (4) two illustrations that provide examples of how these resources can be used in real-world situations. The ideas, tools, and resources presented in the different chapters are intended to inform and support the existing decisionmaking processes of multiple organizations with diverse management goals.
We offer a conceptual framework for managing forested ecosystems under an assumption that future environments will be different from present but that we cannot be certain about the specifics of change. We encourage flexible approaches that promote reversible and incremental steps, and that favor ongoing learning and capacity to modify direction as situations change. We suggest that no single solution fits all future challenges, especially in the context of changing climates, and that the best strategy is to mix different approaches for different situations. Resources managers will be challenged to integrate adaptation strategies (actions that help ecosystems accommodate changes adaptively) and mitigation strategies (actions that enable ecosystems to reduce anthropogenic influences on global climate) into overall plans. Adaptive strategies include resistance options (forestall impacts and protect highly valued resources), resilience options (improve the capacity of ecosystems to return to desired conditions after disturbance), and response options (facilitate transition of ecosystems from current to new conditions). Mitigation strategies include options to sequester carbon and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Priority-setting approaches (e.g., triage), appropriate for rapidly changing conditions and for situations where needs are greater than available capacity to respond, will become increasingly important in the future.
In this report, we lay out a framework for understanding potential impacts of climate change on forestry. This framework draws on a review of recommended actions from forest managers and scientists throughout Canada, the US, and Europe. We then present a toolbox of practices that forest managers in the northeastern US might apply to reduce exposure to the immediate and long-term risk from climate change.
The forests of the Northeast U.S. will be significantly affected by climate change, but they also play a role in mitigating climate change by sequestering CO2. Forest management decisions can increase forests’ resilience and ability to adapt to altered precipitation and temperature patterns. At the same time, management strategies that increase carbon storage will help reduce climate disruptions. Because of climate change, foresters on managed lands should take into account changes in species composition, more frequent disturbances, potential changes in growth rates, and distorted insect and disease dynamics. Silvicultural prescriptions should emphasize low impact logging techniques, the perpetuation of structural complexity, legacy trees, extended rotations, and uneven aged management systems where appropriate. In order to maintain resilience as well as to store carbon, forests should be protected from land use conversion.
Policies to reduce global warming by offering credits for carbon sequestration have neglected the effects of forest management on biodiversity. I review properties of forest ecosystems and management options for enhancing the resistance and resilience of forests to climate change. Although forests, as a class, have proved resilient to past changes in climate, today’s fragmented and degraded forests are more vulnerable. Adaptation of species to climate change can occur through phenotypic plasticity, evolution, or migration to suitable sites, with the latter probably the most common response in the past.
ncreases in the environmental awareness of global consumers coupled with pressure from regional stakeholders has forced forest managers to demonstrate the potential implications of forest management activities for a broad range of indicators. This paper describes the construction and application of a hierarchical decision-support system for evaluating multi-objective management options for a 288,000 ha forest in northeastern British Columbia. The decision-support system includes a stand-level model, a forest estate model, a habitat model and a visualization model.