Management - - - what can be done?
Although high elevation white pine forests are often physically remote, they have not escaped the impacts of human - caused stresses such as introduced non - native pathogens, climate change and fire suppression. Mortality of high elevation white pines and change in their ecosystems is a reality. These changes are being caused by a combination of factors including (but not limited to); white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetles, dwarf mistletoe and advanced ecological succession dur to fire exclusion.
High elevation white pine forests may not remain as we know and enjoy them today without long - term active management intervention. Innovative strategies, improved information, and the consensus of a diverse constituency are all needed to assure these valued ecosystems are sustained into the future.
The management option chosen for a location depends on site - specific factors and objectives. Management intervention objectives can include:
- Restoring ecosystem functions to forest sites that have been highly impacted by threats (e.g., disease or insects), or
- Sustaining ecosystems functions and preparing the landscape for threats where impacts are still at low levels or not yet present.
Not all management options may be appropriate in all high elevation sites. Some areas, like designated wilderness areas, have constraints on management intervention options.
As with all forest management, frameworks are used to develop effective strategies on a case - by - case basis. Management decisions based on locally relevant information are most likely to be effective, find support, and persist over time. Factors currently being considered in high elevation white pine management efforts include (but are not limited to);
- The area's management direction (e.g., national park, private, national forest),
- The current state and extent of threat to the resource;
- The ecosystem/site characteristics (e.g., accessibility, climate, land use, invasive species);
- The involvement and collaboration of all invested individuals and groups.
Resources are being developed to guide inventories, risk assessment, treatment design and implementation actions.
There is much potential to learn from low and high elevation ecosystems that have already been impacted by these threats. Information may not be directly transferable among ecosystems, however insights from past experiences and restoration efforts are and will be valuable. Similarly, information from intact areas can provide baselines and further understanding of healthy ecosystem function for heavily infected areas. Managers, researchers, operational professionals, and interested public groups working together and sharing their knowledge and perspectives will aid the development and implementation of effective management options to sustain and restore these ecosystems for future generations.