Exploring the role of forest resources in reducing community vulnerability to the heat effects of climate change

Abstract

While the growing literature on forest ecosystem services has examined the value and significance of a range of
services, our understanding of the health-related benefits of ecosystem services from forests is still limited. To
characterize the role of forest resources in reducing community vulnerability to the heat effects of climate
change, a general index of heat vulnerability (HEVI) was developed through Principle Components Analysis
(PCA) and subsequently used within ANVOA and Poisson regression to assess the relationship between the
amount and type of forest resources (species, management regime, spatial pattern) and a county's vulnerability
to the heat effects of climate change. Results of the ANOVA showed significant differences in the extent and characteristics
of forests among counties experiencing different levels of heat vulnerability. The Poisson regression
using county heatmortality as the dependent variable found forest characteristics to have a significant influence
on heat mortality when other determinants of vulnerability were controlled. A negative and significant relationship
was specifically found between forest area and heat related mortality, which supports the hypothesis that
the extent of forest coverage helps to alleviate vulnerability associatedwith heat effects. These findings have important
implications for understanding the role of forest ecosystemservices in reducing a community's vulnerability
to the heat effects of climate change. Findings will also be useful in guiding land use planning and
preserving desirable forest characteristics to help communities adapt to climate change.

  • Citation: Walton, Z.L.; Poudyal, N.C.; Hepinstall, J.; Johnson Gaither, C.; Boley, B.B. 2015. Exploring the role of forest resources in reducing community vulnerability to the heat effects of climate change. Forest Policy and Economics. Vol. 71: 94-102, 9 p. DOI:10.1016/j.forpol.2015.09.001
  • Keywords: Ecosystem services, Public health, Mortality, Adaptation, Counties, Land use, Heat index, Poisson model
  • Posted Date: October 2, 2015
  • Modified Date: October 6, 2016
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