Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Managing future forests for water

Date:
September 28, 2011
Source:
USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station
Summary:
Scientists recently used long-term data to examine the feasibility of managing forests for water supply under the changing weather conditions forecast for the future.

Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists recently used long-term data from the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory (Coweeta) in Western North Carolina to examine the feasibility of managing forests for water supply under the changing weather conditions forecast for the future.
Credit: Photo by USDA Forest Service

Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists recently used long-term data from the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory (Coweeta) in Western North Carolina to examine the feasibility of managing forests for water supply under the changing weather conditions forecast for the future.

Published in the September issue of the journal Ecological Applications, the analysis examines the interactions among changing weather conditions, forest management, and streamflow using long-term data from paired watershed studies at Coweeta, a 5,600-acre research facility and Forest Service Experimental Forest.

"Long-term data from experimental forests are truly the foundation of Forest Service research," says SRS Research Ecologist and lead author Chelcy Ford. "For this study we took one of the longest continuous records of climate and hydrology and coupled it with data from the long-term forest management experiments on the paired watersheds to look at both precipitation patterns and the feasibility of using forest management to sustain water supply."

The data analysis revealed that precipitation patterns are changing and becoming more extreme, in line with what climate models predict for the area. "We found significant increases in temperature and in the frequency of extreme wet and dry years since the 1980s," says Ford. "These findings tied with those on management and streamflow have implications for managers in any area where changes in precipitation patterns could occur."

Management approaches used in Coweeta watershed studies include conventional thinning strategies as well as more intensive approaches such as converting hardwood stands to pines. Partly because pines keep their needles year-round, conversion from hardwoods to pines decreases streamflow. For this study, Coweeta researchers asked whether vegetation on managed watersheds responded differently to extreme dry and wet years than vegetation on unmanaged watersheds.

"The answer in almost all cases was yes," says Ford. "But from a streamflow perspective, the extreme case of converting hardwood forest to pine produced the largest effect on available surface water. Though it might be a good option for mitigating climate change under future scenarios of increased precipitation, species conversion from hardwood forest to pine would be a poor choice under drier scenarios where it could worsen water shortages by reducing the amount of available water in streams."

Land managers and policy makers are looking to forests for options to offset the effects of climate change, and to forest management as a way to create ecosystems more resilient to the weather effects of a changing climate, but Ford and her fellow authors advise managers to look closely at the risks and vulnerabilities involved in managing for climate change, especially in relation to water supply.

"Managers need to carefully weigh the risks of adopting one strategy over another," says Ford. "They also need to realize that any strategies they consider will have to address these risks at the regional or even more fine-scaled level, taking into account possible changes to local precipitation patterns."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ford, Chelcy ; Laseter, Stephanie ; Swank, Wayne; Vose, James. Can forest management be used to sustain water-based ecosystem service in the face of climate change? Ecological Applications, 21(6):2049-2067 [link]

Cite This Page:

USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station. "Managing future forests for water." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928131806.htm>.
USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station. (2011, September 28). Managing future forests for water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928131806.htm
USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station. "Managing future forests for water." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928131806.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Icelandic authorities briefly raised the aviation warning code to red on Friday during a small eruption at the Holuhraun lava field in the Bardabunga volcano system. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins