Climate Change

Illustration of trees and grass with two arrows

As forests shrink, less carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in the living tissues of the trees in the forest.

Climate Change Strategy

“Climate change is the biggest conservation challenge facing the Forest Service in the 21st century and contributing to global efforts that help forests mitigate and adapt to climate change is a priority for the Forest Service in California.” ~ Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester

The Forest Service strategy for dealing with climate change is based on 20 years of targeted research and a century of science and management experience. The strategy includes:

  1. Helping forests adapt to changes in climate by restoring the resilience of forest, range and aquatic ecosystems
  2. Managing forests to increase the carbon dioxide they capture and store
  3. Using forest products to reduce and replace fossil fuel energy
  4. Maintaining a research program
  5. Reducing the agency's environmental footprint.

Major disturbances such as floods and droughts are likely to increase in number and intensity. The ecological impacts of wildfires as well as forest pests and diseases are expected to rise, with extended periods of high fire risk and large increases in area burned.

These disturbances threaten the capacity of national forests to provide the kinds of environmental services that people have come to expect, including clean air and water, habitat for fish and wildlife and opportunities for hunting, fishing, skiing, and other kinds of outdoor recreation.


The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) plays a leadership role in climate change and greenhouse gas science at national and international levels.

Research of PSW scientists focuses on assessing climates, evaluating ecosystem responses, promoting approaches to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and developing adaptation strategies to manage natural resources in the face of changing climates.