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Strategic Framework for Responding to Climate Change

The Strategic Framework for Responding to Climate Change is based on the Forest Service mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forest and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Society relies on the ecosystem services provided by forests and grasslands such as clean water, clean air, biological diversity, wood products, and recreation. Global climate change is dramatically altering forest and grasslands and many of the most urgent forest and grassland management problems of the past 20 years— wildfires, changing water regimes, and expanding forest insect infestations—have been driven, in part, by changing climate.

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to human well being and sustainable management of forests and grasslands because the rates of change will likely exceed many ecosystems’ ability to adapt. To continue to fulfill its mission, the Forest Service must fully integrate the consideration of climate change into its planning and actions.

The Strategic Framework has seven goals to address climate change. To achieve these goals, the Forest Service will need to work with a broad range of partners. The goals are:

SCIENCE - Advance our understanding of the environmental, economic, and social implications of climate change and related adaptation and mitigation activities on forests and grasslands.

ADAPTATION - Enhance the capacity of forests and grasslands to adapt to the environmental stresses of climate change and maintain ecosystem services.

MITIGATION - Promote the management of forests and grasslands to reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases, while sustaining the multiple benefits and services of these ecosystems.

POLICY - Integrate climate change, as appropriate, into Forest Service policies, program guidance, and communications and put in place effective mechanisms to coordinate across and within Deputy Areas.

SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS - Reduce the environmental footprint of Forest Service operations and be a leading example of a green organization.

EDUCATION - Advance awareness and understanding regarding principles and methods for sustaining forests and grasslands, and sustainable resource consumption, in a changing climate.

ALLIANCES - Establish, enhance, and retain strong alliances and partnerships with federal agencies, State and local governments, Tribes, private landowners, non-governmental organizations, and international partners to provide sustainable forests and grasslands for present and future generations.

We recognize that these goals will not be realized immediately. Only through ongoing implementation actions over many years will we make our vision and goals a reality.

For more information on Forest Service response to climate change: http://www.fs.fed.us/climatechange/

For scientific background on climate change related to forests and grasslands: http://www.fs.fed.us/research/fsgc/climate-change.shtml

PowerPoint presentation for understanding the Strategic Framework (PPT)

Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell summarizes the Strategic Framework (PDF)

Print version of this Web page (PDF)

US Forest Service
Last modified May 13, 2009

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