The Forest Planner enables landowners in Oregon and Washington to find, map, and design custom forest management scenarios for their properties. Users can select the property and forest stands that they want to examine, enter information about the tree species and forest types represented, and select from a variety of management scenarios.
The Forest Planner enables landowners to visualize alternative forest management scenarios for their properties and their effect on variables including timber stocking and yields, carbon storage, and fire and pest hazard ratings.
Emrys Treasure, Mary Morrison, John Cleeves, Kristen Schmitt
Project process and implementation:
Forest Plan Revision under the 2012 Planning Rule is an iterative process that includes three general phases – 1) assessment; 2) developing, amending or revising the forest plan, and; 3) implementation and monitoring (see fig 1). The plan revision is currently in progress on the Francis Marion, and materials are revised as new information and public input become available. See the Francis Marion Plan Revision webpage for the most current information.
At each of these three phases, there are opportunities to consider climate change, how it will affect forest resources on the Francis Marion, and how to develop appropriate management responses and monitoring efforts. In order to base these climate change considerations on the best available science, the Francis Marion partnered researchers and used TACCIMO for knowledge management. TACCIMO is a web-based information delivery tool that was developed by the Southern Research Station (SRS) Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) and the Forest Service’s Southern Region (R8) to connect climate change science with forest management and planning needs. The TACCIMO support team works directly with national forests on a variety of planning efforts, and these collaborations help TACCIMO tool evolve over time. The forests in the Southern Region are among the first to directly incorporate climate change into their forest plan revisions using the new 2012 Planning Rule, and the TACCIMO team, along with other FS and partner scientists, are supporting these efforts and assisting in interpreting relevant best available scientific information. Members of the TACCIMO team have attended forest planning meetings and presented at public fora on the forest plan revision for the Francis Marion.
Figure 1: A diagram illustrating the three phases of the Forest Plan Revision process
Phase 1: Assessment Draft Assessment Development The assessment for a forest plan revision is designed to rapidly evaluate existing information about relevant ecological, economic, and social conditions and trends, and their context within the broader landscape. TACCIMO reports capturing findings from current and relevant climate change scientific literature was reviewed by the Francis Marion planning team and integrated into the assessment phase of the plan revision process. The planning team also used TACCIMO summaries developed from the Climate Change Tree Atlas to look at future suitable habitat for different tree species, and the Sea Level Rise Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) model to examine sea level rise. The draft assessment for the Francis Marion is open for review and input until late 2014.
A small sample of key findings on climate change that were integrated into the Francis Marion assessment include:
Sea level rise and extreme weather - The rate of sea level rise is expected to increase over the next century, as is the potential for severe storms such as hurricanes. Together, these changes could have large consequences for the coastal ecosystems that occur where the FMNF borders the Atlantic Ocean. Ecosystems like maritime forests, saltwater marshes, and tidally influenced riparian zones may be particularly threatened. Sea level rise will also increase the potential for saltwater intrusion into coastal freshwater tables, which could affect groundwater resources.
Synergy between adaptation and restoration goals - Some plant and animal species are expected to do better than others as the climate changes. For example, longleaf pine ecosystems tend to be more tolerant of stressors such as drought, insects, and wind damage, and science suggests that they may be well-suited to future conditions. An ongoing effort on the Francis Marion is restoring native ecosystems and species, including longleaf pine ecosystems which were once dominant across the southeastern U.S. but have lost ground to other species such as loblolly pine. In this situation, forest restoration efforts could have the added benefit of making the forests on the FMNF more resilient to changing climate.
Invasive Species - With a changing climate, invasive species may outcompete or negatively affect native species. Certain invasive plant species such as cogongrass are able to tolerate a wide range of harsh conditions, and have the potential to increase on the FMNF, which could alter entire forest ecosystems. The FMNF is located close to a major harbor that gets shipping traffic from around the world, so the potential for new introductions is also high.
Draft Preliminary Need to Change The Draft Preliminary Need to Change represents the transition from the assessment to the forest plan development phase. It evaluates the existing forest plan in light of new scientific information, laws, and policies, and identifies plan directions that “need to change.” Comments and questions on the draft are being accepted.
Notably, there is no direction for responding to climate change in the 1996 forest management plan for the Francis Marion. Based on assessment findings derived from TACCIMO, the FMNF planning team collaborated with Forest Service and partner scientists to integrate climate change considerations as they developed the ‘need to change’ document.
Sea level rise - The assessment identified current and projected sea level rise that is affecting the FMNF, yet the 1996 forest management plan does not mention this. The ‘need to change’ states that “Forest plan management direction is needed for ecological systems that are in the margin of change due to rising waters, as well as recreation developments and the risks associated with potential new development in the margin of change.” Management and/or monitoring actions to address this point will be included in the forest plan revision.
Longleaf pine restoration - The 1996 forest management plan does place importance on restoring longleaf pine ecosystems. However, in light of new estimates of their historical distribution and their expected resilience to climate changes and disturbances, the ‘need for change ‘ states: “Objectives need to be revised to increase the amount of maintenance or restoration of longleaf pine woodlands, flatwoods, and savannas for at least 50 percent or more of land with the ecological potential to support those ecosystems. Longleaf pine needs to be promoted over loblolly pine to increase sustainability of pine forests to severe wind and hurricane damage.”
Phase 2: Developing the forest plan Identifying Management Strategies The summary of Proposed Management Strategies builds on previous documents to outline some of the actions that may be included in a revised forest plan for the Francis Marion. Many proposed strategies in this document were not necessarily developed as direct responses to climate changes, but were reviewed by the planning team with climate change information in mind, and may have the indirect benefit of making forests more resilient to changes. However, TACCIMO did provide information to deliberately and directly include climate change response strategies in the document’s discussions on forest health and adaptive management, based on the integrated interpretation of resource area experts. This document is under discussion and open for public input.
Strategies proposed primarily to help maintain forest health on the FMNF under climate change include the following:
Reduce vulnerability by maintaining and restoring resilient native ecosystems, including streams and longleaf pine;
Enhance adaptation of species by reducing the effects of serious disturbances where possible and taking advantage of disruptions to convert to more resilient and desirable ecosystems;
Use preventive measures for reducing opportunities for forest pests;
Lessen greenhouse gas emissions by reducing carbon loss from hurricanes and restoring species such as longleaf pine that have higher carbon sequestration rates;
Maintain, improve and restore the diversity within stands to be ecologically sustainable;
Increase resilience of forests to both climate change and hurricane damage through landscape structural diversity;
Plant new trees and improve forest health through thinnings and prescribed burning to increase carbon for the future;
Address ecological systems that are in the margin of change due to rising waters, as well as, recreation developments and the risks associated with potential new development in the margin of change;
Address speedy salvage, road repairs or other ecological damages after major disturbances by tornados, hurricanes, wildfire, floods or drought;
Collaborate with partners and local municipalities to monitor the loss of marshlands, the effects of sea level rise on vegetation, saltwater intrusion, stream water temperatures and flows, and tidal forests and bald cypress for effects of increasing salinity.
Phase 3: Monitoring Integrating Multi-scale Monitoring in Plan Development The FMNF is developing a process for adaptive management and multi-scale monitoring that will play a key role in integrating climate change into the forest plan. Monitoring is essential for detecting changes in a timely manner and being able to respond to them effectively. For example, climate change leads to an increased risk of an invasive species being introduced on the forest. But forest managers have no way of knowing where or when exactly that introduction will happen. By setting up a monitoring strategy that accounts for anticipated climate impacts, the forest will be better able to adjust management approaches quickly to account for changes in the environment.
Currently, TACCIMO is supporting the process to develop a cohesive monitoring strategy along with plan revision team members, RO monitoring staff and South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative staff. They are collecting ideas on monitoring needs from sub-teams of people responsible for specific sections of the forest plan revision. All ideas are being compiled into a table that describes ecosystem drivers, stressors, indicators of those stressors, current monitoring efforts, and possible changes. Alerts are being developed for each monitoring indicator, that would incite further evaluation if conditions change. The alerts are paired with adaptive management strategies that will help the forest identify potential solutions when problems arise. Collectively, this information will represent the forest monitoring strategy, which closes the adaptive management cycle. For more information on these efforts, see Section 2.8 of the Proposed Management Strategies
Figure 2: The timeline for the Frances Marion National Forest Plan Revision.
This project was a pilot effort to construct climate-connected state and transition models for a large landscape in eastern central Arizona. The objective was to use state and transition models developed as a part of the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project and Dynamic Global Vegetation Model outputs from the model MC1 to construct and test the modeling approach.
Oregon State University, Wallowa-Whitman & Umatilla National Forests
FS Research Station(s):
Pacific Northwest Research Station
This project will use climate-connected state and transition models developed as a part of the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project to assist with cumulative effects analysis of alternative management scenarios for the Lower Joseph project area in the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon. The objective is to use the climate-connected state and transition models to evaluate alternative scenarios proposed by local land managers and collaborative groups given possible climate change impacts.
This project will connect state and transition models developed as a part of the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project with Dynamic Global Vegetation Model outputs for Southeastern Oregon. The objective is to develop a set of vegetation modeling tools that can be used by local land managers and collaborative groups to examine potential rangeland management scenarios and interactions with possible climate change impacts.
This project will connect state and transition models developed as a part of the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project with Dynamic Global Vegetation Model outputs for Southwestern Oregon. The objective is to develop a set of vegetation modeling tools that can be used by local land managers and collaborative groups to examine potential forest management scenarios and interactions with possible climate change impacts.
Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Oregon State University, Institute for Natural Resources, US Forest Service
FS Research Station(s):
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Computer simulation models are often used to project vegetation responses to changing CO2 (carbon dioxide) and climate. We developed a process that links the mechanistic power of dynamic global vegetation models with the detailed vegetation dynamics of state-and-transition models to project local vegetation shifts driven by projected climate change. We applied our approach to central Oregon (USA) ecosystems using three climate change scenarios to assess potential future changes in species composition and community structure.
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Our results suggest that: (1) legacy effects incorporated in state-and-transition models realistically dampen climate change effects on vegetation; (2) species-specific response to fire built into state-and transition models can result in increased resistance to climate change, as was the case for ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests, or increased sensitivity to climate change, as was the case for some shrublands and grasslands in the study area; and (3) vegetation could remain relatively stable in the short term, then shift rapidly as a consequence of increased disturbance such as wildfire and altered environmental conditions. Managers and other land stewards can use results from our linked models to better anticipate potential climate-induced shifts in local vegetation and resulting effects on wildlife habitat.
Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon State University
FS Research Station(s):
Pacific Northwest Research Station
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Economics Branch (CEB) analyzes cost-effective strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both in the U.S. and internationally. EPA relies on the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gas (FASOM-GHG) model for analysis of GHG mitigation from the U.S. forest, agriculture and bioenergy sectors. This project will involve model development, results interpretation, testing, analyses, and documentation associated with the forestry and bioenergy sectors and related land use in the FASOM-GHG. The overarching objectives of the project are to make the forest sector portion more flexible, able to simulate a broader range of alternative bioenergy and CO2 sequestration policies, and to simplify the basic model code to reduce compilation and run time.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Economics Branch (CEB) analyzes cost-effective strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both in the U.S. and internationally. EPA relies on the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gas (FASOM-GHG) model for analysis of GHG mitigation from the U.S. forest, agriculture and bioenergy sectors. The model is developed and maintained by the FASOM-GHG team, with expert members at Texas A&M University, Oregon State University, the Nicholas Institute at Duke University, Research Triangle Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, Environmental Protection Agency, USDA and the U.S. Forest Service.
1. Contribute to Development and Testing of the FASOM-GHG Modeling System, including Model Version Comparisons and Support for Continued Refinement of FASOM-GHG.
2. Preparation of FASOM-GHG documentation and related materials.
Restoring riparian forests on streams where historic land uses have created open meadows could reduce maximum stream temperatures by as much as 7o C relative to current conditions, even under a future climate when air temperatures are 4o C warmer than today.
Summer maximum stream temperatures are near thresholds of thermal tolerance for salmon and trout in many streams throughout the interior Columbia River Basin. Salmon and trout populations in many of these streams are severely depressed, resulting in efforts to restore stream and riparian habitat. Climate change raises serious questions about the long-term outcomes of restoration because projected warming could make many of these streams and rivers uninhabitable for salmon and trout within a few decades.
We used the mechanistic stream temperature model, HeatSource, to examine future changes in stream temperature on the upper Middle Fork John Day River. Our model scenarios examined: 1) a +4 oC increase in air temperature; 2) ±30% changes in stream discharge from both changes in irrigation withdrawals and climate-change related loss of winter snowpacks; and 3) four riparian vegetation scenarios: 3a) current conditions where effective stream shade averages 19%; 3b) a post-wild fire scenario with maximum vegetation height of 1 m and 10% canopy density resulting in 7% effective stream shade; 3c) an intermediate condition representing a young-open forest or tall-shrub dominated vegetation with trees or shrubs 10-m tall and with 30% canopy density resulting in 34% effective shade; and 3d) a restored riparian forest with trees 30-m high and canopy density of 50% resulting in 79% effective stream shade.
Our model results showed the composition and structure of riparian vegetation were the single biggest factor determining future stream temperatures. In contrast, changing air temperature or stream discharge had relatively small influence on future stream temperatures. The post-wildfire and the current-vegetation scenarios were warmer than today, but in both cases, effective shade was low, so the stream was sensitive to air temperature increases due to climate change. The intermediate restoration, simulating a young-open forest or a tall-shrub dominated riparian zone, was slightly cooler than today. The biggest change resulted from restoring the riparian forest which decreased summer maximum temperatures by ~ 7 oC.
Research and policy discussions highlight the role of forests in reducing greenhouse gases by storing carbon. An important factor regarding forests and carbon is simply maintaining the amount of land that is retained in forest cover. Since 1973, Oregon’s statewide land-use planning program has sought to maintain forest and agricultural lands in the face of increasing development by maintaining forest and agricultural zones and to limit growth to within urban growth boundaries. We combine projections of forest and agricultural land development with estimates of average carbon stocks for different land uses to examine what effect land-use planning has had in maintaining forest carbon in western Oregon. In addition to other benefits arising from the conservation of forestland, results indicate that Oregon’s land-use planning system in western Oregon yields significant gains in carbon storage equivalent to a reduction of 1.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year.