National Silviculture Workshop

Research Available in Special Journal Issue

disturbance

Scientists and managers are working to understand and anticipate the effects of climate change. Climate change could cause a number of disturbances such as insect outbreaks, ice storms to become more common. Photo by Heather Spaulding, courtesy of Flickr.

In 1973, foresters and scientists gathered for the first U.S. Forest Service National Silviculture Workshop. Since 1979, the workshop has been held every two years.

The workshop brings two branches of the U.S. Forest Service – the National Forest System and Research & Development – together to address silvicultural challenges. University scientists and managers from other state and federal agencies also participate.

The 2017 National Silviculture Workshop will be in Flagstaff, AZ on July 18-20. There is no charge to attend, although registration is required.

“Our goal is to enhance the Forest Service’s restoration, resilience, and climate adaptation efforts,” says David Gwaze. Gwaze is the National Forest System national silviculturist, and is helping organize the 2017 workshop.

Climate was the primary theme of the 2015 National Silviculture Workshop. The 2015 workshop was in Baton Rouge LA, in conjunction with the Society of American Foresters’ National Convention.

Over the next century, the climate will likely change significantly. The changes could cause wildfires, insect outbreaks, ice storms, and extreme droughts and floods to become more common.

“Anticipating disturbance has been in the silviculturist’s wheelhouse for decades,” says James Guldin. “Scientists and managers are laying the groundwork for silviculture in the future.”

Guldin is an SRS research ecologist who helped organize the 2015 workshop and coauthored several papers in a special issue of the Journal of Forestry (paywall). The special issue builds on presentations that researchers and managers gave at the 2015 workshop.

Forest Service researchers from the Southern, Northern, Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Southwest Research Stations contributed to the special issue, as did many national forest managers. Researchers from Colorado State University, the University of Vermont, Oregon State University also contributed.

Several of the articles focus on how oaks respond to their environment. For example, one study addresses survival and development of four oak species exposed to different amounts of light. Another assesses seedling development after shelterwood treatments, deer fencing, and prescribed fire. “These studies suggest that climate change will affect oak seedlings and saplings as much as mature oaks,” says Guldin.

prescribed fire
Fire in the mountains near Flagstaff AZ, where the 2017 National Silviculture Workshop will be held. Photo by Don Bragg, USFS.

The special issue discusses the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change project. ASCC is a network of research sites designed to show the effect of climate change adaptation treatments in common forest types. A paper in the special issue documents the framework of the project and describes the way two national forests are using it.

The special issue also describes a new climate change risk metric called the ecosystem vulnerability assessment approach. EVAA is designed to help managers and scientists understand how climate change could affect forests in the Midwestern and eastern U.S.

“The practical implications of climate change will require new silvicultural approaches,” says SRS research forester Don Bragg. “The National Silviculture Workshop and this special issue shows how scientists and managers are working together to meet this challenge.”

Climate was not the only topic at the 2015 National Silviculture Workshop. Oak restoration – especially for savannas and woodlands – was also covered in the special issue. SRS research forester Callie Schweitzer coauthored a review study about using prescribed fire, timber harvesting, and forest thinning to restore oak.

Other papers in the special issue address the potential resilience of mixed pine-hardwood forests, the role of silviculture in providing habitat for the threatened Florida scrub jay, and a longleaf pine cone collection effort in Texas following a bumper cone crop.

Read the introduction to the special issue.

For more information, email Jim Guldin at jguldin@fs.fed.us.

Access the latest publications by SRS scientists.

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