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How to manage forests in hurricane impact zones

focus of managers should be on reducing the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems, particularly in those areas with higher event risk."

The researchers developed an approach that considers all the potential disturbances in an area—the threat matrix—then assesses the risks of severe hurricanes within this context. Activities following a hurricane event are divided into those dealing with immediate outcomes (short-term) and those managing the recovery (long-term).

"If disturbances such as major hurricanes are in the threat matrix of an area, policies and procedures should be in place to manage effects," says Stanturf. "The infrastructure to restore access and communication should be put into place before the storm hits to meet both the short-term goals of salvage and fire prevention and the long-term goal of reforestation and ecological recovery."

Stanturf and fellow authors use the case study of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to illustrate the major decisions and actions that must be taken after a major event. These include rapid assessment of damage, protection of timber resources and recovery of value, management of second order events such as wildfire, protection of other resources such as endangered plants and animals, and best practices for proceeding with salvage.

"Stands within a hurricane damage zone that are not salvaged will require monitoring for up to 5 years to detect delayed mortality or the onset of insect infestations or diseases," says Stanturf. "Beyond the initial flurry of cleanup and salvage logging, the recovery process will take many years, and require the investment of time and resources. The recovery period is a good time to look at how to reduce the vulnerability of forests."

Vulnerability can be lessened by converting to species that are less susceptible to hurricane damage, by controlling stand structure, and by dispersing harvesting and thinning operations. The authors simulated the potentia
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Source:Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service


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