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Hot droughts and lessons for the new era of forest management

Released: 2015
Stephenson, NL, and AJ Das. 2015. Hot droughts and lessons for the new era of forest management. 13th Biennial Conference of Science & Management on the Colorado Plateau & Southwest Region, Flagstaff, Arizona. 5–8 October 2015. [presentation]

Recent examples of forest dieback induced by hot droughts likely foreshadow even greater changes to come, and sharply highlight our entry into a new era of forest management – an era in which we cannot automatically use past forest conditions as management targets for the future.  In strategically-chosen areas, management efforts will likely focus on avoiding the sudden loss of forest cover, while actively trying to ease the transition to new forest types that are better adapted to an array of probable future conditions.  In areas that do experience sudden forest dieback, efforts may focus on avoiding loss of biological potential (e.g., by avoiding extensive topsoil loss to erosion) and on re-establishing a vegetation cover better adapted to future conditions.  In both cases, we will likely strive to maintain regional native biodiversity and key ecosystem functions, while abandoning attempts to maintain “natural” communities (combinations of species).  Some broad classes of management strategies worth considering include “the four Rs”:  restraint, resistance, resilience, and realignment.

This product is associated with the following project:
Climate and Fire in the Sierra Nevada

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