Forest environmental conditions are affected by climate change, but investments in forest environmental quality can be used as part of the climate change mitigation strategy. A key question involving the potential use of forests to store more carbon as part of climate change mitigation is the impact of forest investments on the timing and quantity of forest volumes that affect carbon storage. Using an economic optimization model, we project levels of U.S. forest volumes as indicators of carbon storage for a wide range of private forest investment scenarios. Results show that economic opportunities exist to further intensify timber management on some hectares and reduce the average timber rotation length such that the national volume of standing timber stocks could be reduced relative to projections reflecting historical trends. The national amount of timber volume is projected to increase over the next 50 yr, but then is projected to decline if private owners follow an economic optimization path, such as with more forest type conversions and shorter timber rotations. With perfect foresight, future forest investments can affect current timber harvest levels, with intertemporal linkages based on adjustments through markets. Forest investments that boost regenerated timber yields per hectare would act to enhance ecosystem services (e.g., forest carbon storage) if they are related to the rate of growth and extent of growing stock inventory.
A primary mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is multiple resource management, and one of the emerging themes is forest restoration. The National Silviculture Workshop, a biennial event co-sponsored by the Forest Service, was held May 7-10, 2007, in Ketchikan, Alaska, with the theme of "Integrated Restoration of Forested Ecosystems to Achieve Multiresource Benefits." This proceedings presents a compilation of state-of-the-art silvicultural research and forestry management papers that demonstrates integrated restoration to yield multiple resource benefits. These papers highlight national perspectives on ecosystem services, forest restoration and climate change, and regional perspectives on forest restoration and silvicultural practices to achieve multiple resource benefits from researchers and forest practitioners working in a broad array of forest types in the United States.
Balancing society’s multiple and sometimes competing objectives regarding forests calls for information describing the direct and indirect benefits resulting from forest policy and management, whether to address wildfire, loss of open space, unmanaged recreation, ecosystem restoration, or other objectives. The USDA Forest Service recently has proposed the concept of ecosystem services as a framework for (1) describing the many benefits provided by public and private forests, (2), evaluating the effects of policy and management decisions involving public and private forest lands, and (3) advocating the use of economic and market-based incentives to protect private forest lands from development. The concept extends traditional economic theory regarding multiple forest benefits and the use of economic incentives to enhance their provision, by emphasizing ecosystems as an organizing structure for benefits. Although the emphasis on ecosystems is new, challenges in evaluating ecosystem services are similar to those long faced by economists tasked with evaluating forest benefits: (1) defining a typology of ecosystem services, (2) describing and measuring ecosystem services units or outputs, and (3) describing and measuring ecosystem services per unit of values or social weights. Progress within the Forest Service in applying the ecosystem services concept to forest policy and management will depend on knowing what information will suffice, working across disciplines, deciding on appropriate analytical frameworks, defining the appropriate role of economic and market-based incentives, and adequately funding economics research.
Increased development results in the loss of forest, farm, range, and other open space lands that contribute to the quality of life of U.S. residents. I describe an economic rationale for growing public support for preserving local open space, based the growing scarcity of open space lands. I test the rationale empirically by correlating the prevalence of open space referenda in U.S. counties to socioeconomic variables, including population density, change in density, per capita income, education, and other factors. Data come from the Trust for Public Land LandVote database and the US. Bureau of the Census. The results suggest how key socioeconomic trends-most notably, population growth, rising incomes, development, and increasing open space scarcity-motivate interest and support for preserving open space, when open space lands remain unprotected. The analysis provides a context for discussing policy and management strategies for addressing urban sprawl and open space loss.
Decayed wood plays many critical roles in forest ecosystems. Standing dead trees, called snags, provide habitat for a suite of wildlife, including several species of birds, insects, bats, and other mammals. Down wood provides wildlife habitat and performs ecosystem services such as releasing humus, nitrogen, and phosphorus into the forest soil, storing pockets of moisture, and stabilizing soil on slopes. Root wads, tree stumps, hollow trees, and partially dead trees also perform important ecological roles as wildlife habitats and sources of soil organic matter.
DecAID Advisor is an on-line decision-aiding system to help managers plan for wood decay elements for biodiversity in forests of Washington and Oregon. DecAID Advisor is a statistical “meta-analysis” and synthesis of a vast amount of wildlife and inventory data. It does not make decisions for managers, but instead, DecAID Advisor advises on size and amount of snags, down wood, and other wood decay elements to meet management objectives and to help set those objectives by forest type and structural condition class. It is the first decision-aiding tool of its kind, given its scope of species, inventory data, and topics provided.
Creative experiments are bringing values of ecosystem services into the marketplace including carbon markets, wetland and habitat banking, water temperature credits, certifications, and tax incentives. Market values have helped raise awareness for ecosystem service contributions to quality of life, and help harness funds for their protection. Achieving these outcomes for wilderness involves particular challenges. This article discusses four of these challenges.
Ecologists and natural resource managers struggle to define and relate biodiversity, biocomplexity, ecological integrity, ecosystem services, and related concepts; to describe effects of disturbance dynamics on biodiversity; and to understand how biodiversity relates to resilience, resistance, and stability of ecosystems and sustainability of resource conditions. To impart order on this lexicon zoo, a "concept map" framework is suggested for clearly defining biodiversity parameters and related terms, relating biodiversity to ecosystem services and sustainability, describing how disturbance affects biodiversity, and identifying biodiversity parameters for management and monitoring.