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

ion are expected to gain another 27 million people in the next 50 years and grow by about 5 million hectares.

Invasive species will alter forest density, diversity, and function. The U.S. North has the dubious distinction of having the greatest number of invasive insects and plants per county due to nearly three centuries of active commerce, diverse tree species that provide suitable habitats, and the means for invasive species to spread.

Management intensity for timber is low in Northern forests and likely to remain so. A low propensity or low capacity for forest management reduces options for addressing perceived problems such as low forest diversity, invasive species, and other insects or disease problems.

Management for non-timber objectives will gain relevance but will be challenging to implement. An unintended consequence of reduced timber harvesting may be reduced capacity to subsidize other restoration activities either through revenue from timber sales or through manipulation of vegetation and woody fuels during logging.

Actions that researchers and land managers can take to address these issues include:

  • Develop quantifiable state and regional goals for forest diversity.
  • Understand the spatial and structural impacts of urban expansion on forests.
  • Develop symbiotic relationships among forest owners, forest managers, forest industry and the general public to support contemporary conservation goals.
  • Work to understand the many dimensions of forest change.

"The northern quadrant of the United States includes 172 million acres of forest land and 124 million people," said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. "In the next 50 years, the link between forests and economic and human health will grow. The Northern Forest Futures Project is helping identify the individual and collective steps needed to ensure healthy and resilient future
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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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