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Global Change Research in the USDA Forest Service

Human Activities And Natural Resource Interactions Research

This element addresses the ways in which global change will affect human activities and how human activities, through agriculture and resource management, will affect global change. The Human Activities and Natural Resources Interactions research program conducts research in three problem areas:

  • Assessment of ecosystem change impacts. Research to identify and assess the effects of forest ecosystem responses to climate change on communities and society.
  • Evaluation of forest policy options. Identification and evaluation of policy options in rural and urban forestry for mitigating and adapting to the effects of global change.
  • Implications for forest management. How to integrate risks associated with potential climate changes into rural and urban forest management decision processes.

Implementation of these activities requires that models currently used to assess the forestry sector be enhanced to include geophysical, biological, and human systems. Research underway in ecological systems and dynamics will provide the basis for modifying empirical relationships in planning models so that the effects of climate change on resource productivity can be incorporated into the decision making process. There are also linkages with greenhouse gas flux and process models that describe and predict terrestrial carbon and greenhouse gas exchanges. Additional needs include evaluations of changing landowner objectives and associated effects on management decisions, as well as better methods for evaluating nonmarket resource values.