finding 7.4 : influences-on-forest-management

Forest management responses to climate change will be influenced by the changing nature of private forestland ownership, globalization of forestry markets, emerging markets for bioenergy, and U.S. climate change policy.



This finding is from chapter 7 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: A central component of the process was a workshop held in July 2011 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to guide the development of the technical input report (TIR). This session, along with numerous teleconferences, led to the foundational TIR, “Effects of Climatic Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector.”78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 The chapter authors engaged in multiple technical discussions via teleconference between January and June 2012, which included careful review of the foundational TIR and of 58 additional technical inputs provided by the public, as well as other published literature and professional judgment. Discussions were followed by expert deliberation of draft key messages by the authors and targeted consultation with additional experts by the lead author of each message.

Description of evidence base: The key message and supporting text summarizes extensive evidence documented in the TIR, “Effects of Climatic Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector.”78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 Technical input reports (58) on a wide range of topics were also received and reviewed as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input. The forest management response to climate change in urban areas, the wildlife-urban interface, and in rural areas has been studied from varying angles. The literature on urban forests identifies the value of those forests to clean air, aesthetics, and recreation and suggests that under a changing climate, urban communities will continue to enhance their environment with trees and urban forests.78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 2545714a-f4ac-48f4-8c8f-b0954f3cfef6 In the wildlife-urban area and the rural areas, the changing composition of private forest landowners will affect the forest management response to climate change. Shifts in corporate owners to include investment organizations that may or may not have forest management as a primary objective has been described nationally.78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 5569b7e3-2649-4e91-90f5-33cfc9a8bbec Family forest owners are an aging demographic; one in five acres of forestland is owned by someone who is at least 75 years of age.9b0386a7-0420-4061-9091-00aef01d6cc2 Multiple reasons for ownership are given by family forest owners, including the most commonly cited reasons of beauty/scenery, to pass land on to heirs, privacy, nature protection, and part of home/cabin. Many family forest owners feel it is necessary to keep the woods healthy but many are not familiar with forest management practices.9b0386a7-0420-4061-9091-00aef01d6cc2 Long-term studies of the forest sector in the southern United States document the adaptive response of forest landowners to market prices as they manage to supply wood and associated products from their forests;e925f8cf-5da4-40c9-a6b2-409a8523adc8 however prices are less of an incentive in other parts of the United States.78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 2545714a-f4ac-48f4-8c8f-b0954f3cfef6 Econometric approaches have been used to explore the economic activities in the forest sector, including interactions with other sectors such as agriculture, impact of climate change, and the potential for new markets with bioenergy.dd77d60a-0b9f-4a5f-bb8b-41bba86a5ddc cefd546d-c937-47a1-81b4-6583558a910f An earlier study explored the effects of globalization on forest managementd66999c0-4675-4c75-a85d-94ccec1d5dda and a newer study looked at the effect of U.S. climate change policy.1490dd53-ae13-4319-9cbf-66de96d01614 One of the biggest challenges is the lack of climate change information that results in inaction from many forest owners.9b0386a7-0420-4061-9091-00aef01d6cc2

New information and remaining uncertainties: Human concerns regarding the effects of climate change on forests and the role of adaptation and mitigation will be viewed from the perspective of the values that forests provide to human populations, including timber products, water, recreation, and aesthetic and spiritual benefits.78f2cbd8-d8f2-4d99-abbd-017bad4d52f1 Many people, organizations, institutions, and governments influence the management of U.S. forests. Economic opportunities influence the amount and nature of private forestland (and much is known quantitatively about this dynamic) and societal values have a strong influence on how public forestland is managed. However, it remains challenging to project exactly how humans will respond to climate change in terms of forest management. Climate change will alter known environmental and economic risks and add new risks to be addressed in the management of forests in urban areas, the wildlife-urban interface, and rural areas. The capacity to manage risk varies greatly across landowners. While adaptation strategies provide a means to manage risks associated with climate change, a better understanding of risk perception by forest landowners would enhance the development and implementation of these management strategies. Identification of appropriate monitoring information and associated tools to evaluate monitoring data could facilitate risk assessment. Information and tools to assess environmental and economic risks associated with the impacts of climate change in light of specific management decisions would be informative to forestland managers and owners.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Given the evidence base and remaining uncertainty, there is medium confidence in this key message. Climate change and global and national economic events will have an integral impact on forest management, but it is uncertain to what magnitude. While forest landowners have shown the capacity to adapt to new economic conditions, potential changes in the international markets coincident with large-scale natural disturbances enhanced by climate change (fire, insects) could challenge this adaptive capacity. An important uncertainty is how people will respond to climate change in terms of forest management.

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