White-water rapids (class 5 rapids) of the Tutshi River and Canyon in the British Columbia, Canada. USDA photo by Alice Welch.
All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.
There are many reasons landowners value forests – their iconic beauty, cultural connections, wildlife, recreation, and economic opportunities. More reasons and in-depth information can be found in the USDA Forest Service National Woodland Owner Survey. The bottom line is forests help to sustain our local communities: ecologically, economically, and culturally, and many forests are vulnerable to climate change. These ecosystems are already responding to changing conditions, and climate change is anticipated to have a pervasive influence on forests over the coming decades.
Careful forest stewardship involves long-term planning, which naturally includes the consideration of these changing climate influences. This is especially true in northern forests that formed in cold climates, but are now beginning to experience rapid change. Our northern neighbors in Canada manage 397 million hectares of forests and woodlands (approximately 10% of the worlds forest cover), which face many of the same climate change impacts and challenges that we are grappling with in the United States. Read more »
Longleaf pine plantations of trees approximately 25 years old have received their first commercial thinning on the Conecuh National Forest. Photo credit: Jim Guldin, US Forest Service
Drought, especially prolonged or severe drought, can be a major stress in forest ecosystems. Drought can kill trees directly or indirectly through insect attack or wildfire. Both of which are more likely to occur during drought.
Tree mortality impacts most of the ecosystem services provided by forests, including the amount of wood that grows, how much carbon is captured and stored, the health of critical wildlife habitat, water yield and quality, and even whether it’s safe to pursue recreational activities such as hiking or hunting. Read more »
The constructed wetlands on restored coal mine benches on the Greenbrier Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest, not only provide habitat, but also serve as outdoor classrooms for groups that want to learn more about wetland ecology. These students are from the Green Bank Middle School (Pocahontas County, West Virginia). Photo credit: C. Barton (Green Forests Work).
Protecting our National Forests and surrounding lands against a myriad of threats is not an easy feat. That’s why joining forces with the right ally is a powerful strategy.
In 2014, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller formed a strategic alliance to establish the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership.
“We face a multitude of challenges in combating forest threats and the Forest Service can’t prevail alone,” said Tidwell. “The Joint Chiefs’ partnership provides a better way for us to work with local communities to reduce the risk of wildfires, ensure dependable local drinking water and improve wildlife habitat across the country.” Read more »
U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map
Drought patterns have always fluctuated and are expected to become increasingly dynamic in the years to come, making managing working lands profitably more of a challenge. Because specific actions for building resilience to drought vary with location and forest type, USDA is helping land managers connect with experts and find region-specific information and tools through the USDA Climate Hubs.
Recent historical drought events vary from region to region, with the western U.S. showing a trend toward dry conditions while trends in the East are more complex. So how can land managers mitigate the impacts of drought on their lands? Read more »
In addition to the impact on the region’s water supply, lower reservoir levels, such as shown in Lake Meade in Nevada, have an adverse effect on outdoor recreation activities and the businesses that support them. (U.S. Geological Survey)
Drought is inevitable, a recurring natural event – or series of events – that can be felt over a season or a severe, longer lasting natural event that has social and economic consequences.
But how land managers prepare for or react at any stage of a drought in today’s world with the increasing effects of climate change and the information they use is the focus of a new report by the U.S. Forest Service, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. The exhaustive report evaluates appropriate ways to quantify and monitor drought, assesses consequences for forests and rangelands, and identifies potential adaption strategies. Read more »
A warehouse of forest products. Photo credit: Joel Prince courtesy National Association of State Foresters.
The following guest blog is part of a series featuring the Forest Service’s work with partners on restoration across the country.
By Scott Bissette, Assistant Commissioner of the North Carolina Forest Service and chair of the National Association of State Foresters Forest Markets Committee
Our forests are renewable and vital resources when sustainably managed. From paper products such as food packaging and tissue paper, to lumber used for our homes and furniture, trees in our forests provide items we use every day.
Strong markets for these forest products are needed to restore many of our forests and ensure they continue to be managed and are healthy for future generations. That’s why all Americans should support National Forest Products Week from October 18-24, 2015. Read more »