Forecasting Forest Type and Age Classes in the Appalachian-Cumberland Subregion of the Central Hardwood Region
This chapter describes how forest type and age distributions might be expected to change in the Appalachian-Cumberland portions of the Central Hardwood Region over the next 50 years. Forecasting forest conditions requires accounting for a number of biophysical and socioeconomic dynamics within an internally consistent modeling framework. We used the US Forest Assessment System (USFAS) to simulate the evolution of forest inventories in the subregion The types and ages of forests in the Appalachian-Cumberland portions of the Central Hardwood Region are likely to shift over the next 50 years. Two scenarios bracket a range of forest projections and provide insights into how wood products markets as well as economic, demographic, and climate changes could affect these future forests. Shifts in the future age distributions of forests are dominated by projected harvest regimes that lead to qualitatively different forest conditions. The future area of young forests correlates with change in total forest area—as total forest area declines, so does the area of young forests. However, changes in the area of young forests and forest age class distributions are most directly altered by the extent of harvesting within the Appalachian-Cumberland subregion.