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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336290

Title: Native and agricultural forests at risk to a changing climate in the Northern Plains

item JOYCE, LINDA - Us Forest Service (FS)
item BENTRUP, GARY - Us Forest Service (FS)
item CHENG, S - Colorado State University
item KOLB, PETER - Montana State University
item SCHOENEBERGER, MICHELE - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Derner, Justin

Submitted to: Climatic Change
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2017
Publication Date: 9/13/2017
Citation: Joyce, L.A., Bentrup, G., Cheng, S., Kolb, P., Schoeneberger, M., Derner, J.D. 2017. Native and agricultural forests at risk to a changing climate in the Northern Plains. Climatic Change. 146:59-74.

Interpretive Summary: Native forests and planted (or agricultural) forests in the Northern Plains provide valuable benefits to the public such as forestry products (e.g., wood), protection from wind stress for livestock and humans as well as reduced potential for wind erosion , and increased potential for snow capture (e.g., planted windbreaks), and aesthetic values for rural landscapes. Recent trends of increasing temperatures and associated pest outbreaks have impacted the provision of these benefits for the public. Projected increases in temperature, rainfall amounts/seasonality/intensity and length of growing season for the mid- and latter-part of the 21st century suggest additional challenges and opportunities for adaptive management of native and planted forests to lessen risks associated with these future stressors. For planted systems, desired strategies include proper design, improved plant selection and adaptive management. For native forests, adaptive management will require collaborations among multiple landowners with monitoring data informing needed strategies to proactively address disturbances (e.g., pests, disease, and wildfire) and their interaction with projected climatic changes.

Technical Abstract: Native and agricultural forests in the Northern Plains provide ecosystem services that benefit human society—diversified agricultural systems, forest-based products, and rural vitality. The impacts of recent trends in temperature and disturbances are impairing the delivery of these services. Climate change projections identify future stressors of greater impact, placing at risk crops, soils, livestock, biodiversity, and agricultural and forest-based livelihoods. While these native and agricultural forests are also a viable option for providing mitigation and adaptation services to the Northern Plains, they themselves must be managed in terms of climate change risks. Because agricultural forests are planted systems, the primary approaches for reducing risks are through design, plant selection and management. For native forests, management, natural disturbances and collaboration of multiple ownerships will be needed to address key risks.