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Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years
Date:4/17/2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. April 17 In the most densely forested and most densely populated quadrant of the United States, forests reflect two centuries of human needs, values and practices. Disturbances associated with those needs, such as logging and clearing forests for agriculture and development, have set the stage for management issues of considerable concern today, a U.S. Forest Service study reports.

The report Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter forest conditions and management needs in the Northern United States was published recently by the journal Forest Science and is part of the Northern Forest Futures Project, an effort led by the Forest Service's Northern Research Station to forecast forest conditions over the next 50 years in the 20-state region extending from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland. The study is available at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/45716

"In our research, we found five short- and long-term factors that will be highly influential regardless of the nature and magnitude of the effects of climate change," said lead author Stephen Shifley, a research forester with the Northern Research Station. "Addressing these issues today will make northern forests more resilient to the effects of climate change and to any other natural or anthropogenic disturbances in the long term."

The five factors identified the study are:

Northern forests lack age-class diversity and will uniformly grow old without management interventions or natural disturbances. Nearly 60 percent of northern forest land is clustered in age classes spanning 40 to 80 years; young forests (age 20 years or less) are only 8 percent of all forests in the region; and forests older than 100 years are 5 percent of forests.

The area of forest land in the North will decrease as a consequence of expanding urban areas. Cities in the 20-state reg
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Contact: Jane Hodgins
jmhodgins@fs.fed.us
651-649-5281
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
Source:Eurekalert  

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