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Integrating Climate Change Issues in Forest Management

Cross-posted from the US State Department Blog from the 16th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-16) in Cancun, Mexico

Addressing the climate challenge requires advancing policies and partnerships that span a number of initiatives, including protecting the forests. In the United States, forests cover 749 million acres (33 percent of the land). However, the variety of benefits we receive from forests and grasslands are threatened by climate change. For instance, nearly one-fifth of U.S. water supply originates on National Forest land, and U.S. forests offset 12 percent of total greenhouse emissions in the United States.

On November 30 at the U.S. Center at COP-16, Dr. David Cleaves, a Climate Change Advisor to the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, demonstrated how the Forest Service is integrating climate change into its management and operations. He said that the effects of climate change are already visible on the forests. Examples include the rapid spread of bark beetle, a longer wildfire season, and reduced snowpack.

To meet this challenge and ensure that the national forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to climate change, the Forest Service is assessing current risks, vulnerabilities, policies, and gaps in knowledge; engaging employees and stakeholders to seek solutions; and managing through adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable consumption strategies. For example, David Peterson, a Research Biologist with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle, is leading efforts to create adaptation strategies for the effects of climate change on increased numbers of wildfires and other ecosystem disturbances. Also, through its international programs, the U.S. Forest Service is promoting sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation around the world.

Find the latest climate change research by U.S. Forest Service scientists in the Western United States by visiting the Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) website.

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