2011 Volume 16 Issue Special_Issue Pages 57-66
Changes in the world's climate may alter the state of forests across broad areas, through changes in tree species composition, tree productivity rates, and natural disturbance regimes. These potential changes may also have a cascading effect on associated environmental services, such water yield, wildlife habitat composition, and biodiversity. The location, extent, and magnitude of potential changes to the climate will vary according to current regional climatic conditions. For example, RAVINDRANATH et al. (2006) suggest that some areas of India will become wetter and warmer under one 100-year climate change scenario. This paper examines the issues facing forest planners in an era of climate change, and illustrates the challenges and opportunities for assessing climate change scenarios in forest planning efforts. For example, accounting for tree species physiology in forest planning would allow analysts to recognize that some tree species may be less able to adapt to changing conditions. And, adding socio-economic change projections (development and recreational opportunities) to the analysis of policies will further help one understand the potential impact of climate on biodiversity. These and other additional aspects of quantitative forest planning will enable land managers and decision-makers to think through the vulnerability of forests to changes in temperature, precipitation, and wind speed. In addition, forest plans may need to consider actions that will reduce forest fragmentation, conserve biologically important resources, and reduce the vulnerability of forests to the risks presented along with an assessment of traditional forestry concerns (sustainability of timber production, sustainability of multiple uses, and sustainability of ecosystems). Thus there seems to be a need to assess broad-scale forest management scenarios that minimize adverse impacts and vulnerability to the uncertainties associated with insect, disease, drought, windthrow, and wildfire. This type of planning process would need to account for changes in climatic variables and associated changes in disturbance regimes, and recognize that some forests may be more vulnerable during the adjustment period.