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Native and agricultural forests at risk to a changing climate in the Northern Plains


Native and agricultural forests in the Northern Plains provide ecosystem services that benefit human society—diversified agricultural systems, forest-based products, and rural vitality. The impacts of recent trends in temperature and disturbances are impairing the delivery of these services. Climate change projections identify future stressors of greater impact, placing at risk crops, soils, livestock, biodiversity, and agricultural and forest-based livelihoods. While these native and agricultural forests are also a viable option for providing mitigation and adaptation services to the Northern Plains, they themselves must be managed in terms of climate change risks. Because agricultural forests are planted systems, the primary approaches for reducing risks are through design, plant selection and management. For native forests, management, natural disturbances, and collaboration of multiple ownerships will be needed to address key risks.

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Kolb has received research grants from NIFA (Renewable Resources Extension Act Funds) and AFRI-CAP grant (Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies—a 5-year grant examining the use of forest residuals/beetle kill for energy sources) and is on the Advisory Board for these organizations: Montana Natural Resources Youth Camp 501c.3, Montana Forest Owners Association 501c.6, and Montana Forest Council 501c.6.

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Correspondence to Linda A. Joyce.

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The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on ‘Vulnerability Assessment of US Agriculture and Forests developed by the USDA Climate Hubs’ edited by Jerry L. Hatfield, Rachel Steele, Beatrice van Horne, and William Gould.

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Joyce, L.A., Bentrup, G., Cheng, A.S. et al. Native and agricultural forests at risk to a changing climate in the Northern Plains. Climatic Change 146, 59–74 (2018).

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