FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

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Lucas
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FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

Post by Lucas » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:11 am

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 084935.htm

Forests in the Nation's most densely forested and most densely populated region will change radically in the next 50 years, primarily because of the way they are managed -- or not managed -- today, according to a new report by a team of USDA Forest Service scientists and partners.

"This research is vital to everyone concerned about sustaining diverse, healthy, productive forests and the associated ecosystem services, commodities, and jobs our forests provide," said Tony Ferguson, Acting Director of the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory. "It provides a scientific foundation for exploring and discussing the future of forests, and it underscores the role of management in making forests healthier and more resilient."

Future Forests of the Northern United States is part of the Northern Forest Futures Project, a cooperative effort of the Forest Service, the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters and the academic community. Begun in 2009, the project examines how past trends and today's choices may impact Northern forests in coming decades. The new report is published as General Technical Report NRS-151 by the Forest Service's Northern Research Station and is available online at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/50448 Interactive, on-line tools for exploring future scenarios of forest change are available at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/futures/dashboard/

Change is nothing new to Northern forests, and much of it has been positive over the past century. Since the early 1900s, a period when forests were exploitively logged and cleared for farms, there has been an increase of 11 million acres of forest land and an increase of 144 million cubic feet of timber, both despite a population increase of 26 million people. However, other changes are causing concern for forest owners and managers: the expanding impact of invasive species, loss of species diversity, low diversity in forest age classes, increasing urban expansion that is shrinking forest acreage, fragmentation of forest land, parcellation of forest ownerships, loss of forest-based employment, effects of burgeoning white-tailed populations on tree regeneration and forest composition, and increasing atmospheric carbon emissions.

"The challenges facing northern forests are large, complicated, intertwined, and enduring," said Stephen Shifley, one of the 30 authors who collaborated on Future Forests of the Northern United States and a principle investigator for the Northern Forest Futures project. "By applying the best available science to look ahead at how forests are likely to change over the next 50 years, we think forest owners, managers, planners, and policymakers will be better prepared to avoid many future problems by implementing proactive management practices that are ecologically sound, socially acceptable and economically viable."

A few of the trends that will affect Northern forests over the next 50 years include:

Forest area is projected to decrease between 3.5 and 6.4 percent with losses concentrated around existing urban and suburban areas.
Forest area is currently concentrated in the 40-to-80-year age class and is expected to increase in mean age over time, reducing forest diversity and, with it, important types of wildlife habitat.
Forests are under the expanding influence of numerous native and invasive insect pests including emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, spruce budworm, Sirex woodwasp, winter moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, and gypsy moth as well as dozens of invasive plants.
Aboveground forest biomass is expected to increase by about 4 percent, but total carbon sequestered by northern forests (including soils) is expected to decrease by about 2 percent, primarily as the result of reduced forest acreage combined with slower tree growth that is typical for aging forests.
Projected population increases in the North are expected to cause Federal and State park land area per capita to decrease by 19 percent and non-Federal forest land area per capita to decrease by 26 percent.
Future Forests of the Northern United States is one of a series of publications examining past, present and anticipated changes in forest biodiversity, productivity, health, soil and water, carbon, biomass, energy, commodities, employment, and recreation in the U.S. North. Other publications are available at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/futures/pubs/

The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people's lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The mission of the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:33 am

"Forest area is currently concentrated in the 40-to-80-year age class and is expected to increase in mean age over time, reducing forest diversity and, with it, important types of wildlife habitat."

"Aboveground forest biomass is expected to increase by about 4 percent, but total carbon sequestered by northern forests (including soils) is expected to decrease by about 2 percent, primarily as the result of reduced forest acreage combined with slower tree growth that is typical for aging forests."

How long can they keep towing the line that older forests are less biodiverse, that game habitat is the only wildlife habitat that counts, and that tree growth slows down with age? Must take some very selective filtering of the last couple decades of contributions to our knowledge of forest ecology...

Joe

Re: FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

Post by Joe » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:38 pm

Erik Danielsen wrote:"Forest area is currently concentrated in the 40-to-80-year age class and is expected to increase in mean age over time, reducing forest diversity and, with it, important types of wildlife habitat."

"Aboveground forest biomass is expected to increase by about 4 percent, but total carbon sequestered by northern forests (including soils) is expected to decrease by about 2 percent, primarily as the result of reduced forest acreage combined with slower tree growth that is typical for aging forests."

How long can they keep towing the line that older forests are less biodiverse, that game habitat is the only wildlife habitat that counts, and that tree growth slows down with age? Must take some very selective filtering of the last couple decades of contributions to our knowledge of forest ecology...
Right on!
Joe

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Don
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Re: FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

Post by Don » Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:06 pm

Eric-
One of the enduring definitions of old-growth is that it has both horizontal and vertical heterogeneity...which is to say, a forest of mixed ages and species ranging from seedlings, saplings, 40-80 year old stands, and so on into old forest trees. There is a need both for species diversity as well as structural diversity (multi-levels of crowns).
THAT is what is good for wildlife, pretty much of all sizes and shapes, everywhere that those animals rely on forests, for shelter, sustenance, protection.
I think you and I may have had a different read on the 'abstract' of "Future Forests of Northern US". I
haven't read the full version, but my sense so far is that this may well be a good document.
-Don
Erik Danielsen wrote:"
How long can they keep towing the line that older forests are less biodiverse, that game habitat is the only wildlife habitat that counts, and that tree growth slows down with age? Must take some very selective filtering of the last couple decades of contributions to our knowledge of forest ecology...
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Erik Danielsen
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Re: FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:30 am

I agree, it seems we have different readings of that point- the implication I read into it was that if the bulk of current 40-80 year old stands are allowed to continue aging without human intervention, that heterogeneity will be reduced. My disagreement with that is that inevitable disturbances and succession as well as death of individual shorter-lived trees, just as a function of time, would inevitably mean an increase in diversity even as mean age might increase. This certainly might be enhanced by smart management to beneficial effect, but I take issue with the implication that the forests are in need of human intervention in order to avoid a loss of diversity and wildlife habitat. The poorly managed secondary forests I'm used to seeing strike me as the worst of both worlds, between young forest and old forest- the ones that have had more time to age are always better, with their own natural patchwork of clearings developing and much more life on the forest floor.

Those are the biases of my own (admittedly much briefer) experiences in interpreting the abstract, though. Hopefully I'll find time to get to the whole paper, glad to see it's free to access.

wisconsitom
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Re: FYI A new report on the future of NE forests.

Post by wisconsitom » Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:10 pm

FWIW-and this is following only a cursory skimming of the report-they do treat the old growth paradigm as one of lessened biomass accumulation within the report. From what I could tell, there's much to like about this thing, but that's not one of them.

An analogy I use to try to explain this phenomenon is that of northern white cedar: Always and everywhere, one will read that this species is "slow-growing". I'm pretty sure it's not. Allow me to explain: So let's say we're measuring height increment of, uh......sugar maple and N. white cedar, in a forest setting. In this setting, all new growth on the maple is apt to consist of height increment. There just are not many branches on a young sugar maple, it's entire "body" consisting largely of the main stem. Meanwhile, ten feet away grows a young N. white cedar. Now when that tree grows, it is growing not at just the tip, but at every branch tip. Sure, the same is true of the maple, but in that case, there are far fewer branch tips to do this growing. On the "cedar", there are as many growing points as there are branches, and that's a lot. On the maple, not so much. So at the end of the study, the maple has grown 16 inches (or whatever) but the cedar has put on only 8 inches of growth. Did the maple therefore grow "twice as fast" as the cedar? No, of course not, it just put all, or nearly all of its growth into one stem. The cedar put all of its growth into perhaps one thousand stems. I see this as a rough guide to what is happening with the giant old growth trees. Their growth is spread out all over the place, whereas that young forest that so many seem to think is laying down carbon so much faster is, in fact, just not p[utting it into so many locations.
Hopefully I haven't blasted this whole convo off into the cosmos. I do that ya know!

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