Decreasing development on forest and agricultural land partly driven by gas prices

A new study found a steep decline in the development of forest and agricultural land from 2000 to 2015 compared to the previous two decades. This decline resulted in a broad shift towards denser development patterns throughout the U.S. Researchers from Oregon State University, Montana State University, and the USDA Forest Service found that falling…  More 

Fires change forests

A study spanning four continents and 67 years suggests that frequent fire is causing grasslands to replace savannas. The effects of changing fire frequencies may take several decades to become substantial, reports the study led by Stanford University researcher Adam Pellegrini, with contributions from USDA Forest Service research plant physiologist Mary Anne Sword Sayer and…  More 

Defining the U.S. land base in support of the Resources Planning Act Assessment

By analyzing non-Federal land use trends, USDA Forest Service researchers, including Mark Nelson of the Northern Research Station, Kurt Riitters of SRS, and others from across the agency, found that developed land use in the South nearly doubled over the past 30 years, from 25.3 million acres in 1982 to 45.6 million acres in 2012. Their…  More 

Pathways to Climate Safety

When forest animals need to leave their home territories, because of climate change impacts like drought, flooding, or heat or because humans are moving in, where do they go? They need a habitat corridor or pathway – with tree cover, food, and water – to protect them on their journey to a nearby suitable habitat.…  More 

Climate Change, Streamflow, and Social Vulnerability: Locating Increased Risks

What happens when climate change or urbanization increases the frequency or severity of floods? How well can different downstream communities prepare for and respond to those catastrophic events? USDA Forest Service scientists and approached these questions in a new way. They developed a risk matrix that pairs the likelihood of high streamflow events – which…  More 

Southern Forest Outlook: Synthesis of Regional Trends and Futures

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and Southern Region, in partnership with the Southern Group of State Foresters, is leading an update to the Southern Forest Assessment Library, with a new regional assessment called the Southern Forest Outlook, or SFO. The SFO update will inform forest sector decision makers, partners, and the interested public…  More 

Groundwater Recharge in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley

The Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley is a floodplain that spans seven states. It is suffering from groundwater depletion – a long-term water level decline due to human use. Irrigation and overuse of water resources have led to a seven meter drop in groundwater levels from 1987 to 2014. Water from precipitation and other sources…  More 

FIA Data Inform Studies on Land Use Conversions, Markets, and More

Strong forest markets protect forests by reducing conversion of forests to other land uses, according to a recent study. The study uses data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program. “Across the Southeast and the rest of the U.S., FIA provides detailed observations of every aspect of the forest resource,” says John Coulston, a USDA…  More 

The Future of Forests & Water in the NC Piedmont

We’re all downstream from something. A new modeling study by the USDA Forest Service shows that forests make very good upstream neighbors. The research focuses on the Yadkin Pee-Dee River Basin in central North Carolina. Senior research ecologist Jim Vose and colleagues have been studying this area because of its projected rapid population growth and…  More 

NASA Proposal Selected for Funding

Forests – and other plant communities – pull carbon dioxide gas out of the air and store it, or convert it into forms the rest of life on earth can use. “The conversion of carbon dioxide gas into other carbon-containing forms is called primary productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Vose. Productivity in the…  More