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Informing and Evaluating Forest Management Strategies to Promote Drought Resistance

Forest Management Strategies to Promote Drought Resistance and Resilience

Dates

Start Date
2015-04-01
End Date
2017-09-30
Release Date
2015

Summary

Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe—even in areas with cooler climates. Mitigating the negative effects of climate change, in particular increased drought frequency and severity, poses a major challenge to forest managers. Managers are searching for strategies that minimize the negative effects of drought on forests (i.e. increase their resistance to drought) and maximize the ability of forests to recover after a drought (i.e. improve their resilience). Evidence suggests that forests with certain combinations of tree species, sizes, and stem densities are better able to withstand and recover from drought. The goal of this study was to identify which forest management practices [...]

Child Items (4)

Contacts

Principal Investigator :
John B Bradford
Co-Investigator :
Shawn Fraver, Anthony D'Amato, Brian Palik
Funding Agency :
NCCWSC
CMS Group :
Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASC) Program

Attached Files

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NCCW-2015-5_DixieNatlForest_UT_AlanCressler.jpg
“Dixie National Forest, Utah - Credit: Alan Cressler”
thumbnail 601.77 KB image/jpeg

Purpose

Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe. Forest managers are seeking strategies to increase forest resistance (minimizing negative impacts during the drought) and resilience (maximizing recovery rates following drought). Limited experimental evidence suggests that forests with particular structural characteristics have greater capacity to resist change and or recover ecosystem function in the face of drought. However, the applicability of these results to practical forest conservation and management remains unclear. We propose to utilize an existing network of eight long-term, operational-scale, forest management experiments to identify how established forest management prescriptions that include thinning and regeneration harvests can increase resistance and resilience of forest habitats to drought. We have preliminary evidence that certain forest thinning strategies, if sustained over several decades, can enhance resistance and resilience by manipulating forest structural conditions. By expanding upon those results, this project will 1) evaluate how past manipulations of forest stand structure have conferred drought resistance and resilience, and 2) characterize the long-term benefits to sustaining forest habitats of manipulating forest structure for minimizing adverse drought effects in forest ecosystems over the next several decades. Results will provide forest managers with insight into strategies that can help sustain forested habitats in the context of climate change. We propose to utilize an existing network of eight long-term forest management experiments to identify how established forest treatment practices can increase resistance and resilience of forest habitats to drought events. We are compiling data from these long-term experiments at sites ranging from Maine to Arizona, representing a broad array of forest types and regional climates. From preliminary examinations of a limited number of long-term plots, we have evidence that certain forest thinning strategies, if sustained over several decades, can enhance adaptation capacity by manipulating forest structure. In addition, our preliminary results (from a pilot study) clearly indicate that drought is an important driver of growth declines even in humid areas like New England, where ecohydrological controls are not widely recognized. This network of long-term experiments will allow us to characterize of drought impacts and identify promising management strategies across a very wide range of climatic conditions and forest habitats.

Project Extension

parts
typeTechnical Summary
valueDeveloping management strategies that mitigate the negative effects of climate change, and especially increased drought severity, is a major challenge for natural resource managers. Our overall goal is to understand how forest structural and compositional conditions (easily manipulated by forest management) can influence drought resistance and resilience. This work will leverage an existing network of eight long-term forest management experiments from Arizona to Maine, and will build upon a wealth of existing data and a proven ecosystem water-balance model. Specifically, we propose to 1) evaluate how past manipulations of forest stand structure through thinning and regeneration harvests have conferred drought resistance and resilience, and 2) characterize the long-term benefits to sustaining forest habitats of manipulating forest structure for minimizing adverse drought effects in forest ecosystems over the next several decades. We will identify the particular forest management strategies (e.g. thinning practices) that have best conferred drought resistance and resilience, and communicate these results to the natural resource management community through a series of publications, reports, presentations, and a workshop. This effort will rely upon a long-standing and fruitful collaboration among researchers with the USGS, US Forest Service, Northeast Climate Science Center, and the universities of Minnesota and Maine.
projectStatusCompleted

Budget Extension

annualBudgets
year2015
totalFunds74030.0
parts
typeAgreement Type
valueCOA
typeAgreement Number
valueCM3870
totalFunds74030.0

Dixie National Forest, Utah - Credit: Alan Cressler
Dixie National Forest, Utah - Credit: Alan Cressler

Map

Spatial Services

ScienceBase WMS

Communities

  • National CASC
  • National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers

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Additional Information

Identifiers

Type Scheme Key
RegistrationUUID NCCWSC 48580125-e697-44d1-931f-e88f64cde6df
StampID NCCWSC NCCWSC14-BJ0052

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