Forecasts of forest conditions in regions of the United States under future scenarios: a technical document supporting the Forest Service 2012 RPA Assessment
The 626 million acres of forests in the conterminous United States represent significant reserves of biodiversity and terrestrial carbon and provide substantial flows of highly valued ecosystem services, including timber products, watershed protection benefits, and recreation. This report describes forecasts of forest conditions for the conterminous United States in response to multiple scenarios evaluated by the 2010 Resources Planning Act Assessment. The results are based on the U.S. Forest Assessment System, a modeling system designed to forecast alternative futures for U.S. forests, and provide a forward-looking adjunct to the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Scenarios address a range of future conditions regarding population growth, economic change, global forest product markets, and climate change. Forest forecasts are described for each of four Resources Planning Act regions (South, North, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Coast) across the Resources Planning Act scenarios. In the Eastern United States, the range of socioeconomic futures leads to greater variation in future forest conditions than does the range of climate projections. Because of the dominance of public forests in the Western United States, socioeconomic changes hold less sway over forest futures there. Built directly from and as a forecasting adjunct to the monitoring system of the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, the modeling components will be enhanced by additional forest inventory data as they become available.