OOS 27-8
Managing forest landscapes in the context of changing disturbance regimes

Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 4:00 PM
203, Sacramento Convention Center
Jerry F. Franklin, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background/Question/Methods: In many forest ecosystems climate change is being experienced most prominently in the form of altered disturbance regimes, such as increased severity and size of wildfires, massive insect outbreaks, and increased frequency and intensity of storms.  The consequence of these changes is relatively well understood in the case of forest ecosystems subjected to frequent wildfires, such as longleaf pine and ponderosa pine ecosystems.  The consequences of altered disturbance regimes and appropriate management responses is much less clear in the case of forest ecosystems subjected to highly infrequent episodic disturbances, such as the moist temperate conifer forests of coastal northwestern America and the moist temperate hardwood forests of New England and the Lake States.

Results/Conclusions: Active management of frequent-fire forest ecosystems in ways that reduce stand densities, shift species composition to more drought- and fire-tolerant species, and increase stand diameter can significantly increase the resistance and resilience of these forests, particularly when linked with use of prescribed fire.  Such treatments can be effective in reducing both the short-term risks to such forests as well as improving their ability to tolerate climate change.  Appropriate active management of moist temperate forests to reduce their vulnerability to altered disturbance regimes is not clear; modifying such systems in ways that would reduce their vulnerability to manydisturbances, such as increased wildfire, have the potential to alter the fundamental nature of these ecosystems.