How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Group Selection Harvest for White Oak Regeneration

Oaks are keystone species in forests across the eastern U.S. However, oak reproduction has been declining since at least the 1970s — old oaks still dominate the overstory, but a younger generation is not coming in behind. White oak, in particular, is valuable to wildlife and wood-dependent industries such as barrel, furniture, and cabinet making.…  More 

Climate Change and Red Spruce

Red spruce faces a variety of challenges in the southern Appalachians — from past exploitative logging to land use change and forest fragmentation, and now climate change. A three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation is investigating historic red spruce decline in abundance and range shifts — as well as how those shifts might…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

Impacts of Urbanization on U.S. Watersheds

Urbanization is inevitable with a growing population, but what consequences does this have for the water we rely on? Cheng Li, a former visiting scholar at North Carolina State University from the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, along with USDA Forest Service scientists Ge Sun, Peter Caldwell, and Erika Mack modeled the effects of urbanization on…  More 

Forest Landowners and State Property Tax Programs

Every state in the U.S. has a property tax program that lowers taxes for forest landowners. Greg Frey and Stephanie Snyder of the USDA Forest Service, with Justin Meier, Michael Kilgore, and Charlie Blinn of the University of Minnesota recently published two papers that build on their previous analysis of all fifty state property tax…  More 

New Science Synthesis on Soils and Soil Management

We don’t often think about what’s underneath our feet, but soils are essential for the food we eat, building materials for our homes, the clean water we drink, storing carbon and mitigating climate change, even the air we breathe. Our health and well-being depend on healthy soils. It may be time to take a closer…  More 

Wildfire Recovery Hot Moments

Disasters can be catalysts for change. As wildfires become more common, an emerging objective is to make communities fire-adapted, where ecological benefits of fire can be realized while minimizing threats to life and property. Yet questions remain as to when and how such community change takes place. Recent research by Ronald Schumann of University of…  More 

SRS Releases American Chestnut Course

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was an iconic tree that is now functionally extinct. For a hundred years, researchers from multiple organizations have been working to restore this tree. A free online course – An Introduction to the American Chestnut – is now available. The course covers chestnut taxonomy, silvics, historical importance, ecology, and its…  More 

Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to…  More