- Forest ecosystems are of paramount importance to the Pacific Northwest both economically and ecologically. Our region is defined by the forested landscapes that support our timber industry, sequester carbon, facilitate recreation, and provide habitat for diverse ecological communities. Changes to the forest landscape will reflect the cumulative effects of disturbances from wildfires, insects, diseases, and drought.
- Over the last several decades, warmer and drier conditions during the summer months have contributed to an increase in fuel aridity and enabled more frequent large fires, an increase in the total area burned, and a longer fire season across the western US. The decline in mountain snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt contributes to the lengthening of the fire season. These seasonal droughts will occur under warmer conditions in the future, stressing trees directly by exacerbating water limitations. When trees are under stress they are more susceptible to other disturbance agents such as insects and pathogens.
- Forest management policies and strategies can help preserve forest functions. Adaptive strategies and tactics focus on increasing resilience to disturbance and reducing existing stressors. Sustainable resource management can be largely achieved through adjusting existing management strategies.