What is the Forest Service doing to adapt to climate change?
To foster climate-informed, sustainable land management across the country, the Forest Service has a long history of engaging in climate change research. Forest Service scientists conducting research on forest and stream environments on our Experimental Forests and Ranges have recorded environmental changes in many different ecosystems across the nation. This long-term research, some of which has continued for decades, is rare and crucial for understanding how ecosystems respond to climate change.
- In Arizona, scientists conducting research in the Fort Valley Experimental Forest discovered the effects of climate change on ponderosa pine trees.
- In North Carolina, researchers at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory have been monitoring climatic variables since 1934.
- In Minnesota, research on the Marcell Experimental Forest has provided insights on how forests and peatlands might respond to temperature and hydrologic changes with future warming.
Forest Service research has been and continues to be recognized worldwide. In 2007, 13 Forest Service scientists were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work with former Vice President Al Gore, Jr. and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This work covered 40 years of climate and air quality research on forested lands.
Today, the Forest Service is working to ensure that our National Forests and Grasslands are prepared for upcoming changes in climate through adaptation (reducing vulnerability to climate change effects) and mitigation (decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere). Adaptation strategies include building resistance to climate stressors, such as drought, insects, and wildfire, and increasing resilience to climate change impacts. Mitigation strategies include promoting healthy forests to increase uptake of atmospheric carbon by forests and storage of carbon in soils, vegetation, and long-lived wood products, as well as reducing energy consumption in facilities, vehicle fleets, and other operations.
Climate Change Resources
The Forest Service has developed a National Roadmap for Responding to Climate Change to provide guidance for National Forests and Grasslands to adapt and prepare for changing climates.
- The Climate Change Performance Scorecard helps each unit plan and measure progress for integrating climate change. The Scorecard is a series of 10 questions broken up into four elements— organization capacity, engagement, adaptation, and mitigation.
- The Office of the Climate Change Advisor, headed by the Climate Change Advisor, Dr. David Cleaves, oversees the implementation of the Scorecard and provides climate change information and assistance to National Forests and Grasslands units, the Chief of the Forest Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- The Forest Service also provides an online climate change information clearinghouse, the Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC). The CCRC has information for land managers on basic climate science, topic pages on natural resource science and management related to climate change, video courses, case studies, and climate change tools.