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Condition of Forest and Rangeland Resources

Will climate change affect the forest productivity and the forest sector in the United States? The Forest Service conducts periodic assessments of the condition of forest and rangeland resources under the authority of the Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA). These periodic assessments synthesize and integrate the current state of scientific knowledge for policy discussions. Increasing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has raised concerns about the vulnerability of forest to the elevated carbon dioxide and potential changes in climate and climate variability. The Forest Service is mandated by the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974 (as amended in 1990) to prepare a Renewable Resources Assessment to assess the impact of climate change on the condition of renewable resources on forests and rangelands, and to identify the rural and urban forestry opportunities to mitigate the buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since 1990, RMRS scientists have provided the technical analyses of climate change for the RPA assessments. The 2000 RPA climate change assessment reviews our ability to quantify the impacts of a changing climate on vegetation communities and forest productivity, on the forest economy and land area changes, on carbon stored and its associated uncertainties in forests, in wood products, and in landfills and dumps. There is a continued need to develop the techniques and methods to assess climate change impacts at this level as the scientific understanding of climate change increases and new developments in forest resource modeling occur. The next RPA climate change assessment for 2010 will continue with emphasis on maintaining continuity with the history of FS climate change studies but also on continuing the tradition of innovation, expanding the analyses into water and wildlife.

View the RPA Climate Change publications.

Contact Linda Joyce for additional information.

Climate Change on Wildlife Habitat

An analysis of potential national effects of climate change on wildlife habitat is being addressed by RMRS scientists through the estimation of an index of climate change stress to terrestrial biodiversity in order to identify regional hotspots of climate change impacts. This research focuses on management strategies for climate change in the states' Wildlife Action Plans.

Contact Linda Joyce or Curt Flather for additional information.