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Articles and Posts related to CIFS

The newest StoryMap is Live!

Stephanie Laseter (SRS) and AJ Beck (Northern Research Station) have developed a StoryMap for the Southern Research Station Experimental Forests.  The map is an interactive tool highlighting locations of Experimental Forests, points of contact, current and historical research, partner forests, and scenarios from the Southern Forest Futures Project.

From the main page, Research Highlights, you can click on the green arrow to select a site and discover more information on left side menu.  Selecting the black dot will give you information on site location, size, and point of contact.    The main map is interactive, giving you access to zoom in on the forest boundary.

The second tab is a listing of our state forest partners. Select the red arrow for a list and links by state.

We are developing other StoryMaps for individual sites and will update the final tab as we complete them. Click here to explore StoryMap.


Jim Vose Accepts U.S. Forest Service Chief's Award on behalf of the team behind the 2016 National Drought Assessment

Chief's AwardCIFS Co-Leader Jim Vose and team members Charles Luce (Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station), Toral Patel-Weynand (Forest Service Washington Office), and James Clark (Duke University) were honored on December 8, 2016, with the U.S. Forest Service Chief's Award from Chief Thomas Tidwell, in the category of “Sustaining Forests and Grasslands,” for their work in development of the report that establishes the scientific foundation for managing forests and rangelands for resilience and adaption to drought.

As team leader, Vose accepted the honor on behalf of the team that developed the report, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, which is credited with providing valuable insight and contributes to better management practices and improved sustainability for U.S. public lands. The report was released in 2016 and received wide press coverage including pieces by the United Press International, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Greenwire, ClimateWire, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

David Wear Wins 2016 National Award in Forest Science

David WearDavid N. Wear, Research Forest Economist and Project Leader of the SRS Center for Integrated Forest Science, has been selected by the Society of American Foresters (SAF) as winner of the National Award in Forest Science. The award recognized distinguished individual research in any branch of the quantitative, managerial, and/or social sciences leading to the advancement of forestry.

The award is a testament to his many years of research in the areas of land use, policy, forest sustainability and forecasting. Some of his most recent work focuses on developing natural resource futures, conducting broad scale assessments, and supporting policy discussions. “From sink to source: Regional variations in U.S. forest carbon futures,” authored by David Wear and John Coulston, and published in Scientific Reports, received much media attention including coverage in The Hill, The Washington Post, and Huffington Post. Findings from that research provides insight into how diminished tree growth in the future could lead to a decline in forest carbon sequestration in the US. Wear has stated that policymakers need information about future sequestration rates, variables influencing those rates and policy options, if they are to make decisions about carbon emissions.  “The projection scenarios we developed for this study were designed to provide insights into these questions at a scale useful to policymakers,” Wear explained.

Through this award, SAF also recognizes the contributions to the advancement of forestry that Wear has made through his leadership on the Southern Forest Resource Assessment and the Southern Forest Futures Project, over 140 publications he has authored or coauthored over the past 27 years, and other important awards he has received.

Wear was recognized at the 2016 SAF National Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, and received a $1,000 honorarium.

Managing Forests for Water: Challenges in the Anthropocene

CompassLive Article by Sarah Farmer, SRS Science Communications, posted on September 15, 2016


anthropoceneHumans are enmeshed in an ancient and intricate relationship between forests and water, and as the impacts of climate change are felt across the globe, the relationship will become increasingly important.

A special issue of the journal Forests, titled Forest Management and Water Resources in the Anthropocene, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate change, and humans. The issue was developed and edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Ge Sun and Jim Vose, and covers topics such as soil moisture, wildfire, streamflow, land use, and modeling studies. The special issue includes an article Sun and Vose wrote on how emerging global threats interact with forest water resources and ecosystems.

“Decades of research has provided a depth of understanding on the relationships among forests and water,” says Vose. “However, the rapid changes in climate, disturbance regimes, invasive species, human population growth, and land use expected in the 21st century are likely to create substantial challenges for watershed management.”

The changes have been so swift and sweeping that a number of scientists agree that Earth has entered a new epoch, the Anthropocene. The proposed epoch is dominated by humans, and characterized by human impacts to the environment, including drastic increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide and subsequent changes in climate.

“Changes in the earth’s climate have significant impacts on forest water resources. Climate change is hydrological change,” says Vose, who is a project leader at the SRS Center for Integrated Forest Science. Climate change affects the amount of rainfall and snowfall that forests receive, and also affects the timing of precipitation. In addition, extreme weather events – and the very high or very low stream flows that they cause – are becoming more common.

Climate change also directly affects how plants grow and use water, and could indirectly contribute to fire, insect outbreaks, tree death, and sea level rise. The interactions between these changes are complex and very difficult to predict.

Forested watersheds have been studied for decades, but the knowledge and tools developed in the past were based on historical observations that may not reflect the future. “A key question is whether existing strategies for protecting water resources will be relevant to future conditions,” says Sun, who is a research hydrologist at the SRS Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center. “Managers need flexible tools that account for thinning, prescribed fire, and other management strategies.”

Forested watersheds are a critical source of clean drinking water. Land managers, city planners, and policymakers across the globe are working to ensure that people – especially those who live in large cities – have adequate and reliable water resources. The world population is projected to swell to 9.6 billion by 2050, and most of that growth will be in cities.

Across the globe, about half of all forests have already been cut down as a result of urbanization and human population growth. Each year, an additional 16 million hectares — over 39.5 million acres — of the remaining forests are lost. At the same time, people are realizing the value of forests as sources of clean water, food, medicines, timber and other products, and recreational, cultural, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits. The economic value of ecosystem goods and services provided just by tropical and temperate forests is estimated at more than $23 trillion each year, and on a global scale, forests store almost half of all terrestrial carbon.

Over the coming decades, decisions about whether to manage forests for drinking water or for carbon storage will require careful consideration of the trade-offs. “The forestry community is facing large global environmental and socioeconomic challenges, and it will be difficult to ‘manage’ our way out of threats,” says Vose. “New approaches that focus on anticipating and guiding ecological responses to change are urgently needed.”

For more information, email Jim Vose at jvose@fs.fed.us

Developing a Network of the South’s Experimental Forests

New project on road drainage structures to link multiple resources

CompassLive Article by Sarah Farmer, SRS Science Communications, June 20, 2016

Escambia EF burn season experimentFor decades, scientists on the 19 experimental forests of the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) have investigated research questions that are as diverse as the experimental forests themselves. Research topics include forest management and regeneration; restoration of wildlife and plant populations; watershed management; and the effects of pollution, climate change, and timber harvest.

Linking the experimental forests into a network could help answer new questions, and SRS scientists at the Center for Integrated Forest Science recently organized a meeting to discuss opportunities for shared research across multiple forests. For the first time ever, 30 SRS scientists from 12 different experimental forests met to discuss these opportunities. Along with SRS were colleagues from Northern Research Station, Forest Service National Forests (Region 8), Forest Inventory and Analysis, and the Agricultural Research Service’s Long-term Agroecosystem Research Network (LTAR).

“A functional network of experimental forests is critical for addressing natural resource challenges in the 21st century,” says Stephanie Laseter. Laseter is a biological scientist at SRS, and is also the Experimental Forest Network lead.

“This network will link sites strategically across geographic domains and environmental gradients,” says Laseter. “Forest Service experimental forests, university forests, and state forests represent a wide range of forest types and management regimes and, through a network, can answer larger scale questions.” A network can also facilitate collaborations and increase efficiency.

Erosion – which can dump sediment into streams, and harm aquatic ecosystems – was among the topics discussed at the meeting. Many experimental forests, as well as national forests, are crisscrossed by gravel roads containing culverts and other drainage structures. Some culverts may be overdue for maintenance, while others may be too small for extreme rainfall events.

SRS scientists have begun a research project that will assess the capacity of these drainage structures, as well as their vulnerability to extreme precipitation, on multiple experimental forests. Although the project is in the early stages, it has already led to collaboration with the Department of Transportation and National Forest System engineers.

Experimental Forest Network Photo Collage“A successful network requires collaboration,” says Laseter. “We are developing new partnerships, and also expanding on our existing partnerships.” For example, Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, and SRS have partnered since 1967, but as a result of the Experimental Forest Network, are working together to create a new demonstration forest on campus. The demonstration forest will provide research opportunities while engaging private landowners on best management practices for managing their forests.

“Over the coming months, we will continue to engage with new partners to describe the initiative and discuss approaches for building a network across the Southeast,” says Laseter.

For more information, email Stephanie Laseter at slaseter@fs.fed.us.

Our Dry, Warm Future May Favor Oak

CompassLive Article by Sarah Farmer, SRS Science Communications, June 9, 2016

Historically, many oak forests across the eastern U.S. experienced frequent low-intensity fires that promoted the establishment and growth of oaks. “However, fire and other disturbances have become less common,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist James Vose. “Red maple, tulip poplar, and other mesophytic, fire-sensitive, and shade-tolerant trees are increasing in many areas of the eastern U.S.”

But what does the future hold? Over the coming decades, changes in fire regimes, climate, and land use will continue to affect forests. However, new climate and disturbance regimes may actually favor oak forests, according to a new synthesis by Vose and Katherine Elliott, a U.S. Forest Service research ecologist. The synthesis was recently published in the journal Fire Ecology.

Changes in precipitation regimes – the pattern and amount of rainfall and other precipitation – appears to be one of the factors favoring mesophytic tree species in eastern forests. Once established, oaks tolerate drought better than many non-oak species that are becoming common in eastern forests, such as maple, beech, willow, blackgum, and others. However, droughts were less common and less severe over most of the 20th century.

Along with a reduction in drought, fire and other disturbances have also become less common. Oaks are fire-tolerant, and although it’s unclear what fire’s future role will be, it will probably play an important role in shaping oak forests. “The combination of climate change, wildfire, and other disturbances could create environmental conditions that favor oaks,” says Vose.

Climate models suggest that through the 21st century, the eastern U.S. will become warmer and have longer rain-free periods. “The combined effect of these changes will probably be increased wildfire risk,” says Vose. “Multiple models converge on the projections that mixed-oak forests in the eastern U.S. will likely experience greater prolonged dry periods, increased wildfire risk, and larger areas burned.”

Northern Red Oak SeedlingAccording to Vose and Elliott, future conditions will likely favor oak forests – with or without management. However, along with climate change and predicted increases in fire risk, land use is expected to change rapidly. Over the next 45 years, up to 40 million acres of land could be newly developed.

Most development is expected to take place at the edges of cities, in the wildland-urban interface. As the landscape becomes more fragmented, there may be fewer opportunities to conduct prescribed burns, even as the predicted hotter and drier conditions cause increased fire risk. Management intervention, such as thinning and prescribed fire, will be critical to protecting neighborhoods and communities from wildfire.

Management can also create forests that are healthier and more resilient. “Management can enable a faster shift to oak dominance,” says Vose. “This, in turn, would create stands more resistant and resilient to future climate stressors.”

For more information, email James Vose at jvose@fs.fed.us

How Drought Affects Forests and Streams

Understanding the interactions among drought, hydrology, and vegetation

CompassLive Article by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, May 3, 2016

Across the U.S., forested watersheds filter surface water that drains into the rivers that supply drinking water for many of the nation’s cities. Besides providing high quality water for humans needs, forest trees regulate streamflow, mitigate flooding, and help create and maintain the water conditions that support healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Drought affects the ability of forests to continue these important functions. In areas of the U.S. that experience seasonal drought on a regular basis, forest and stream ecosystems are often able to adapt to the hydrologic changes that take place, but severe or long lasting drought can push systems to the breaking point. In the western U.S., for example, more prolonged and frequent droughts have ramped up the spread and intensity of insect attacks that, in some cases, kill nearly all of the canopy trees in forest stands. Loss of forest canopy in turn affects the quality and quantity of water from those forests.

Western forests are not alone in their vulnerability to drought. The warmer temperatures and longer dry spells projected under climate change will probably lead to more extreme drought conditions for forests in all regions of the U.S. Forest vegetation can either mitigate or worsen the effects of drought on the ecosystems supported by forests, depending on the species composition of the forest and how those species make use of water and tolerate stress.

Understanding how drought, hydrologic processes, and vegetation interact in U.S. forests – the ecohydrological context – is the subject of a new article in the journal Forest Ecology and Management by U.S Forest Service scientists and collaborators. The review article is a modified version of a comprehensive synthesis on the effects of drought on U.S. forests and rangelands developed by some of the same authors to provide information for the sustained National Climate Assessment process.

drought“Understanding how drought impacts ecosystems requires knowledge of how it impacts the ecohydrological processes of individual tree species in relation to species composition and physical factors such as slope and soil,” said Jim Vose, lead author of the article and project leader of the Forest Service Center for Integrated Forest Science and Synthesis. “With this understanding we can start to develop management options that minimize the impacts of drought on water and water quality.”

For the article, the researchers examined how differences in forest species composition and structure impact evapotranspiration – the loss of water vapor through tree leaves – and how this in turn impacts the quantity and quality of water from forest watersheds. Sections include discussions of the forest harvesting research that has provided much of what is known about how changes in forest structure impact streamflow and water quality, as well as what is known about groundwater interactions with drought, and drought impacts on water quality and stream water temperature.

After noting the challenges to predicting the impacts of drought on hydrological processes, the authors review management options for minimizing impacts on water quantity and quality, including the idea of harvesting to increase water yield, which research has shown is not sustainable in the long run. Replanting cut forests with species that consume less water is another possibility, as are limiting streamwater withdrawals and wastewater discharge during periods of low streamflow, or restoring and maintaining riparian buffers to increase shade and reduce sediment loads.

“There’s still so much uncertainty about drought projections, so it is difficult to predict the ecohydrological interactions among trees, water, and ecosystems,” cautioned Vose. “This uncertainty means that there will be a continuing need for monitoring and adaptive forest management.”

Despite these challenges, new technologies coupled with data from established and emerging networks – such as Forest Service Experimental Forests and Rangelands and Forest Inventory and Analysis plots, the Ameriflux network, NEON, LTER sites, and USGS streamflow gauges — offer ways to measure and visualize ecohydrological processes at a range of spatial scales that may lead to new insights into how to respond to the inevitability of drought.

Read the full text of the article.

For more information, email Jim Vose at jvose@fs.fed.us.

Drought, Fire, and Forests

New assessment provides critical information for managing U.S. forests in the futureDrought Impacts on U.S. Forests and Rangelands report provides critical information for the recently re-authorized National Integrated Drought Information System and meets the National Climate Assessment need for scientific information on drought.

Excerpt from CompassLive Article by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, February 2, 2016

The 2015 wildfire season was the costliest on record, with about $1.71 billion spent by the Forest Service on fighting fires. During one particular week in the summer of 2015, fire-fighting cost $1.6 million per hour. Most of the fires of 2015 hit western states like drought stricken California, where fire risk remains high due to 4 years of drought that’s resulted in the deaths of millions of trees.

As temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change under climate change, it’s likely that drought – and associated disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfires – will only get worse across many areas of the U.S. Large stand-level changes in forests are already underway in many parts of the West, but all U.S. forests can be impacted by drought.

In the South, the 2011 drought set off timber fires in both Georgia and Texas. In 2007, over a third of the region was classified in “exceptional” drought and the city of Atlanta declared a water emergency. That same year, Georgia experienced its largest wildfire on record when the Georgia Bay Complex burned 441,705 acres of forest.

How can forest managers address the impacts of short-term and long-term drought conditions and manage their lands for a hotter and drier future? A newly published report by the U.S. Forest Service provides a national assessment of the impacts of drought on the nation’s forests and rangelands and gives the scientific foundation required to develop strategies that managers can use to increase the resiliency of their forests.

“Management actions can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of drought,” said Jim Vose, the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientist who served as one of lead editors of the report. “This synthesis establishes the scientific foundation needed to manage forests for drought resiliency and adaptation.”

Forested land alone comprises nearly one-third of the total land area of the U.S.—the single largest classification of land cover in the country. Although the assessment is national in scope, it identifies and discusses key regional concerns such as large-scale insect outbreaks and increased wildfire risk in the western U.S.

“This is not to say that drought doesn’t affect forest resources of the East,” says Vose, project leader of the SRS Center for Integrated Forest Science. “The key difference between the western and eastern U.S. is the scale, frequency, and pace of change. The less obvious impacts in the East could have equal or greater consequences because of the large human populations living near forests and relying on them for many key purposes, including clean water.” For example, forested watersheds are critical for the water supplies of many cities, including New York City and Atlanta.

Major findings from the report include:

  • Drought projections suggest that some regions will become drier and that most will have extreme variations in precipitation.
  • Even if current drought patterns remained unchanged, warmer temperatures will amplify drought effects.
  • Drought and warmer temperatures will increase risks of large-scale insect outbreaks and larger wildfires, especially in the western U.S.
  • Drought and warmer temperatures will accelerate tree and shrub death, changing habitats and ecosystems in favor of drought-tolerant species.
  • Forest-based products and values – such as timber, water, habitat, and recreation opportunities – will be negatively impacted.
  • Forest and rangeland managers can mitigate some of these impacts and build resiliency in forests through appropriate management actions.

Learn more about drought impacts on southern forests and possible strategies to increase resilience.

Edited by Forest Service scientists in partnership with Duke University and published by the Southern Research Station, Drought Impacts on U.S. Forests and Rangelands provides critical information for the recently re-authorized National Integrated Drought Information System and meets the National Climate Assessment need for scientific information on drought.

More than 70 scientific experts from the Forest Service, other federal agencies, research institutions, and universities across the U.S. participated in the synthesis. The key issues addressed in the synthesis were identified from a series of virtual workshops with scientists and stakeholders.

Access the full report.

For more information, email Jim Vose at jvose@fs.fed.us


Conserving the South’s Forests in a Rapidly Changing Future

Achievable Future Conditions: A framework for guiding future forest management

Forest Management - control burnExcerpt from CompassLive Article
by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, January 12, 2016

Ensuring the sustainability of the world’s forest ecosystems in these times of rapid environmental, economic, social, and political change presents considerable challenges. In particular, rapid and unprecedented change portends a future where many of the principles and conditions that we’ve relied on to guide future management may never exist again, rendering traditional approaches to forest conservation and management inadequate.

To help address this dilemma, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators developed a new risk-based framework for contemplating and guiding forest conservation and management in a way that focuses on anticipating and guiding ecological responses to change. At the core of the new approach is mapping out the Achievable Future Conditions (AFCs) in relation to biophysical, socioeconomic, and political scenarios that frame the future.

The new thinking underlying the AFC approach took place at the Ichuaway Conference held in Georgia in 2013. Co-authors of the  recently published article in the journal Forest Ecology and Management include Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Jim VoseDavid WearKatie Martin, and Kier Klepzig.  Stephen Golladay from the J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center served as lead author of the article, with additional co-authors from the University of Western Australia and several U.S. universities.

“We have to realize that things are likely to be very different and that management approaches need to adapt. The AFC approach gives managers novel and flexible approaches for sustaining forests in the South under rapidly changing conditions,” said Vose, project leader, with Wear, of the SRS Center for Integrated Forest Science. “We’re trying to establish a management framework that more effectively anticipates and responds to changing biophysical, socioeconomic, and political conditions.”


U.S. Forest Products in the Global Economy

News Release
USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, December 2, 2015

Raleigh, NC — Although the United States leads the world in both production and consumption of forest products, the U.S. share of the global forest products market has declined precipitously since the 1990s.

The declines are a result of decreases in U.S. construction and paper manufacturing, according to a new study by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) economists recently published in the Journal of Forestry. The study evaluated the extent of U.S. declines as compared with those of other major producing countries from 1961 to 2013.

David WearThe U.S. global share of industrial roundwood peaked at 28 percent in 1999. By 2013 it was 17 percent. "The declines are related to a combination of cyclical factors and long-term trends," says David Wear, SRS economist and lead author of the study. "The decline in solid wood products output is linked to low construction levels, while the decline in pulp, paper, and other wood products is connected to the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing and growth in electronic media."

Consumption and production are heavily correlated to economic activity, and the report suggests that as the U.S. housing market returns to long-term averages in the coming years, the demand for wood as a construction material would increase.

In the period from 1960 to 2000, an average of 1.5 million new homes were built in the U.S. each year. A return to this average would bring the U.S. share of the global forest products market back up to prerecession levels of 22 to 24 percent. Allowing wood to be used in taller and larger structures would further expand the market for wood products. Industry groups – as well as the White House Rural Council – are encouraging the use of wood in tall buildings.

However, long-term trends in general manufacturing and the paper market will probably keep the U.S. global market share from returning to the peak level of 28 percent. In particular, the paper sector is unlikely to recover to its 1990 levels. The findings indicate that although government and industry decision-makers are not powerless in the face of changes outside the sector, options for interventions to slow or reverse the declines in production are limited, and it seems unlikely that most long-run trends can be interrupted.

"However, the overall timber supply in the U.S. has grown in the last several decades," says Wear. "In the longer run, the strong resource endowment and expanded timber supply could be the groundwork for growth of the U.S. market share."

Access the full text of the report at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/49857.

Science Contact: David N. Wear, 919-523-5035, dwear@fs.fed.us
News Release Contact: Zoë Hoyle, 828-257-4388, zhoyle@fs.fed.us


Carbon Accumulation by U.S. Forests May Slow Over the Next 25 Years

Sink to Source

News Release
USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, November 12, 2015

Research Triangle Park, NC — Currently, the carbon sequestered in U.S. forests partially offsets the nation’s carbon emissions and reduces the overall costs of achieving emission targets to address climate change – but that could change over the next 25 years.

The accumulation of carbon stored in U.S. forests may slow in the future, primarily due to land use change and forest aging – with the rate widely varying among regions – according to findings by U.S. Forest Service scientists published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

Future declines in forest carbon sequestration could influence emission reduction targets in other sectors of the economy and impact the costs of achieving policy goals. The study also found that policies that encourage retaining or expanding forest land could enhance carbon sequestration levels in U.S. forests over the next 25 years.

Using detailed forest inventory data, Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists David Wear and John Coulston estimated the amount of atmospheric carbon U.S. forests currently sequester. “We found that after accounting for 44 teragrams of land use transfer carbon, sequestration by U.S. forests offset 173 teragrams or 173 million metric tons of the carbon emissions that result from U.S. transportation and energy sources,” said Wear, project leader of the SRS Center for Integrated Forest Science.

The scientists used five different scenarios to project carbon accumulation over the next 25 years, and found that under all of the scenarios the ability of U.S. forests to sequester carbon — act as a carbon sink — will decline overall, with forests in some regions faring better than others.

“Our projections show only a gradual decline in forest carbon sequestration in the East, but a rapid decline to zero by 2037 in the Rocky Mountain region, where forests could become a carbon emission source due to disturbances such as fire and insect epidemics,” said Coulston, SRS Forest Inventory and Analysis supervisory research forester. “We found that carbon sequestration in the Pacific Coast region will fluctuate from current levels but then stabilize as forests harvested in previous decades regrow.”

The researchers found that land use change strongly influences the amount of forest carbon stored. One of the scenarios they ran simulated the effects of policies that would encourage the retention or expansion of forest land as a way to enhance carbon sequestration. They found that afforesting or restoring 19.1 million acres over the next 25 years, a plausible goal in light of historical conservation efforts such as the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, could yield significant gains in carbon sequestration over that period.

“Policymakers interested in reducing net carbon emissions in the U.S. need information about future sequestration rates, the variables influencing those rates, and policy options that might enhance sequestration rates,” said Wear. “The projection scenarios we developed for this study were designed to provide insights into these questions at a scale useful to policymakers.”

For more information, email Dave Wear at dwear@fs.fed.us.


Where Do U.S. Forest Products Stand Globally?

globe_trees.jpgExcerpt from CompassLive Article
by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, April 9, 2015

A recently published report by U.S. Forest Service researchers shows that since the 1990s the U.S. share of the global forest products market has declined as a result of decreases in U.S. construction and paper manufacturing. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) economists Jeff Prestemon and David Wear and SRS staff Michaela Foster authored the general technical report just published online by SRS.

About the report’s authors:

Jeffrey Prestemon is an SRS project leader and adjunct professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State University.

David Wear is the co-leader of the Center for Integrated Forest Science and an adjunct professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State University.

Michaela Foster is a former graduate student in NC State’s Natural Resources Masters Program (2013-2015), a Pathways Student Trainee with the US Forest Service (2010-2015), a 2014-2015 Global Change Fellow Alumna, and is starting the PhD program at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2015.


Climate Change Book by Forest Service Research Named Outstanding Academic Title

Excerpt from CompassLive
by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, February 18, 2015

Climate Change and US Forests Book CoverThe February issue of Choice magazine named Climate Change and United States Forests, a book edited by U.S. Forest Service researchers, one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of the year. Published by the American Library Association, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is the premier source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to scholars and students in higher education. Choice editors award Outstanding Academic Titles to books based on overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form, and originality or uniqueness of treatment.

Edited by Forest Service scientists Jim Vose (Southern Research Station, Center for Integrated Forest Science), David Peterson (Pacific Northwest Research Station), and Toral Patel-Weynand (Washington Office), the book provides resource managers, researchers, and the interested public with a comprehensive science-based assessment of the effects of climate change and variability on U.S. forests.


Carbon Accumulation by Southeastern Forests May Slow

canopy.jpgExcerpt from CompassLive Article
by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, January 29, 2015

Carbon accumulation levels in the southeastern U.S. may be slowing due to forest dynamics and land use changes, according to findings of U.S. Forest Service researchers published in the journal Scientific Reports on Friday, January 23.

The study authored by Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists John Coulston, David Wear and Jim Vose, is the first to isolate the impacts of forest disturbances, such as fire, disease, and cutting, as well as the impacts of land use change using permanent monitoring locations across the Southeast, making it one of the most thorough carbon studies completed.

Researchers show that future carbon accumulation rates are highly sensitive to future land use changes. Land use choices that either reduce the rate of afforestation or increase the rate of deforestation are key factors in future forest carbon accumulation.

“These findings highlight the need for careful assessments of policies that affect forest management and land use changes in rural areas of the Southeast,” said Wear, project leader of the Station’s Center for Integrated Forest Science. “Continued forest carbon accumulation in the region is highly sensitive to land use transitions.”


A Future for Freeze-Tolerant Eucalyptus in the South?

EucalyptusPossible water impacts if landowners switch from pine

Excerpt from CompassLive Article
by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, January 20, 2015

Eucalyptus, a fast-growing tree native to Australia and Indonesia, is planted across large areas of Asia, Africa, and South America as a major source of hardwood fiber for paper and biofuels. There is increasing interest in the South in the development of a freeze-tolerant Eucalyptus species to grow in plantations as a hardwood fiber source.

The prospect of Eucalyptus plantations also raises concerns, since Eucalyptus is known for using large quantities of water. Will landowners convert their forest land to Eucalyptus to get better returns? If they do, how could this affect southern water resources?

David Wear and Jim Vose with Center for Integrated Forest Science published companion articles in the journal, Forest Science: one estimates the acres and types of land southern landowners might convert to freeze-tolerant Eucalyptus, while the other evaluates possible impacts on the region’s water resources.

Wear and North Carolina State University collaborators found that Eucalyptus would probably be most competitive with planted pine, as opposed to agricultural and other land uses, and that conversions from pine could be expected on 0.8 to 1.4 million acres, 5 to 9 percent of the current area of planted pine.

“Extending the analysis to the current area of naturally regenerated pine results in as much as 2.8 million acres,” said Wear. “But actual adoption depends on uncertain future markets for cellulose, especially for bioenergy feedstock.”

Vose and fellow scientists from the SRS Center for Watershed Science and the SRS Eastern Forest Threat Assessment Center used the study area developed by Wear to analyze potential impacts on water resources at stand and regional scales. The researchers found that at the level of conversion indicated by Wear’s research, effects at the watershed level would be negligible – even lower if plantations were on early rotation schedules. In contrast, if economic conditions promoted large-scale conversion of existing land cover (such as 50 percent of current conifer cover), there could be regional effects on water availability in areas such as the Florida Panhandle, south Alabama, southwest Georgia, and Mississippi.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first critical analysis of the potential impacts of Eucalyptus on water resources in the U.S. South,” Vose said.


Assessing Future Life Along the Lumber River

Lumber RiverUnique project partners Forest Service researchers with American Indian Science and Engineering Students

Excerpts from CompassLive Article
by Zoё Hoyle, SRS Science Delivery Group, September 2, 2014

North Carolina State University students in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) are teaming up with CIFS Co-leaders Jim Vose and Dave Wear, and Associate Professor Ryan Emanuel in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources in an innovative two-year project that will research the impacts of land use and climate change on the hydrological processes of the Lumber River, as well as on the Lumbee Tribe, whose ancestors have lived within the watershed for centuries.

“These kinds of effects may be especially strong in rural American Indian communities of the Southeast, where, because of the cultural significance of water and land resources, communities have a strong dependence on local land and water resources,” said Emanuel, who is an enrolled Lumbee tribe member and a faculty advisor for the NC State chapter of AISES.

“The opportunity for AISES students to work closely with Forest Service researchers on a complex modelling project and to become familiar with Forest Service research is one of the great benefits of this partnership,” says Vose. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us at CIFS to gain new insights into looking at the human and cultural dimensions of the work we do.”

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