Climate Change and United States Forests

New Book Focuses on Forest Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services

Climate Change and United States Forests, a newly published book edited by U.S. Forest Service scientists Jim Vose (Southern Research Station), David Peterson (Pacific Northwest Research Station), and Toral Patel-Weynand (Washington Office), provides resource managers, researchers, and the interested public with a comprehensive science-based assessment of the effects of climate change and variability on U.S. forests.

Book chapters are derived from the assessment the editors developed to serve as the primary input from the Forest Service for the 2013 National Climate Assessment conducted by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

“Forest ecosystems are very complex, and it can be difficult to tease out which of the recently observed changes in them come from human-caused climate change, regular climate variability, or other causes,” said Vose, project leader of the Forest Service Center for Integrated Forest Science based in Raleigh, North Carolina. “No matter the cause, by the end of the century U.S. forest ecosystems will likely be very different due to climate change, and that this will affect the ecosystem services they provide.”

The books’ authors focus on direct and indirect factors—altered disturbance regimes and stressors such as insects and diseases—that have the greatest potential to alter the structure and function of forest ecosystems by 2100. The book is divided into four parts:

  • Part I provides the environmental  context for assessing the effects of climate change on forest resources, summarizing changes in stressors and providing state-of-science projections for the future climatic conditions that will affect forests.
  • Part II assesses the vulnerability of forest ecosystems and ecosystems services to the altered disturbance regimes and stressors that will have the biggest effects on forest ecosystems.
  • Part III outlines possible responses to climate change, including adaptation strategies, a proposed framework for risk assessment, and case studies.
  • Part IV describes how the sustainable forest management that now guides activities on most public and private lands in the U.S. can provide the overarching structure for mitigating and adapting forest ecosystems to climate change through the 21st century.

“In addition to demonstrating the continuing need for research in this area, the book shows that the best approaches for adaptation to climate change will come from strong partnerships between research and management,” said Vose. “We must keep finding new ways for scientists, managers and citizens to work together to observe, examine and proactively adapt to the realities of our changing forest systems.”

To purchase the book, go to the Springer website.

For more information, email Jim Vose at jvose@fs.fed.us.

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