, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 125-130
Date: 30 Apr 2013

US strategy for forest management adaptation to climate change: building a framework for decision making

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Recent policy changes in the USA direct agencies managing federal forests to analyze the potential effects of climate change on forest productivity, water resource protection, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and other values.


This paper describes methods developed to (1) assess current risks, vulnerabilities, and gaps in knowledge; (2) engage internal agency resources and external partners in the development of options and solutions; and (3) manage forest resources for resilience, not just in terms of natural ecosystems but in affected human communities as well.


We describe an approach designed to characterize certain climate change effects on forests, and estimate the effectiveness of response options ranging from resistance to a realignment of management objectives.


Field testing on a 6,300 km2 area of conifer forest in the northwestern USA shows this decision model to be useful and cost-effective in identifying the highest sensitivities relating to vegetation management, biological diversity, water resources and forest transportation systems, and building consensus for adaptive strategies and actions.


Results suggest that this approach is an effective means for guiding management decisions to adapt to the effects of climate change, and provides an empirical basis for setting budgetary and management priorities.

Handling Editor: Marc Hanewinkel

Contributions of the co-authors

V. Alaric Sample: Wrote the paper to provide synthesis of multiple, related research projects within overarching context of revised US policies regarding adaptation to climate change; presented paper at the conference on Tackling Climate Change: The Contribution of Forest Science, Tours, France, May 21–25, 2012.
Jessica E. Halofsky: Lead scientist for research project on strategies for climate adaptive management of vegetation, wildlife, aquatic resources, hydrology, and transportation systems on Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. Reviewer and contributing co-author of paper.
David L. Peterson: Lead scientist for research project on responding to climate change in National Forests, and development of a guidebook for developing adaptation options. Reviewer and contributing co-author of paper.