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Drought on Forests and Rangelands

Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States

Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States

In simple terms, drought is a lack of water over a given temporal and spatial scale. Drought can be a severe natural disaster with substantial social and economic consequences. Historical and paleoclimatic evidence shows that drought has always impacted the physical environment and will continue to do so. Management actions can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of drought. As drought regimes change, the ability to quantify and predict the impacts on forests and rangelands is critical to developing and implementing management actions to increase resiliency and adaptation. 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Research and Development scientists in partnership with Duke University authored Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. This scientific document focus includes:
  • drought characterization;
  • drought impacts on forest processes and disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfire; and
  • consequences on forest and rangeland values.

Download the Executive Summary or Drought Synthesis

Executive Summary (PDF, 10 MB)

Drought Synthesis (Treesearch)

To read a summary of the drought report by region visit

To view the webinar on the drought report from Southern Regional Extension Forestry click here.

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