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Scientists Examine the Future of Forests in the Anthropocene

Photo of Contemplating the future of forests, Illinois, USA. International Society of ArboricultureContemplating the future of forests, Illinois, USA. International Society of ArboricultureSnapshot : Forest Service researchers analyzed the major issues and factors affecting forests in the decades ahead: deforestation, mega-fires, urban forests and growing urban populations, the end of wilderness, and water. Potential "game changers" for forest ecosystems include bioenergy and wood-based nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and runaway climate change. Developing the necessary foresight and tackling these issues now is needed to pass on the legacy of a healthy natural world.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bengston, David N.Dockry, Mike
Research Location : Illinois
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 603

Summary

Healthy forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services, natural assets that are vital to human well being and livelihood. Despite their importance, the future of forests is by no means clear in what some have called the "anthropocene," the epoch we are entering in which the impacts of human activities increasingly dominate Earth's ecosystems. The actions of people have always influenced forests, but the increased pace and magnitude of change in human systems poses many challenges for these ecological life-support systems. Forest Service scientists have examined some of the major issues and factors affecting forests in the decades ahead: deforestation, mega-fires, urban forests and growing urban populations, the end of wilderness, and water. Potential "game changers" for forest ecosystems include bioenergy and wood-based nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and runaway climate change. Developing the foresight to tackle these issues now is needed to pass on this natural legacy.