Bet-hedging dry forest resilience to climate-change threats

Forestry and Forest Decline

695b2d87-0b19-4ca3-9ee0-69c6e3653d92New research shows that the most significant current threat to western dry forests is from insect outbreaks and droughts, not wildfires; and historically abundant small trees offer the greatest hope for forest survival and recovery after these events.

The study’s findings suggest current programs that remove most small trees to lower the intensity of wildfires in dry forests and restore large trees lost to logging, may reduce forest resilience to the larger threats from insect outbreaks and droughts. “Using historical forests as a guide, our study suggests we may want to modify our restoration and management programs so they do not put all our eggs in one basket, but instead hedge our bets by keeping both large trees and abundant small ones” said Dr. Baker.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-01-bet-hedgint-forest-resilience-climate-change-threats.html#jCp

GR:  The researchers conducting this study assumed that the U. S. Forest Service’s long-standing practice of paying contractors to remove small trees was intended to reduce forest fire damage.  Actually, the principal reason may have been to speed the growth of harvestable trees.  Thus, removing the small trees that help the forest recover from drought and disease wasn’t done in a misguided attempt to save the forest–it wasn’t a mistake at all, it was done to help timber companies harvest as much timber in the shortest amount of time as possible.

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