One of the big topics being talked about all over the world is climate change. Although the scientific community is not sure exactly how climate change will affect various ecosystems, by looking at the past we can make some educated guesses. For example, in the early-to-mid 1200s there was a massive 50-year drought across the southern part of North America and northern South America. This drought is thought to have caused the decline of the cliff-dwelling Ancient Puebloan cultures, leading them to abandon areas such as Mesa Verde and find other areas to inhabit. A similar drought led to the collapse of the Tiwanaku and Mississippian civilizations.
Many areas of the United States, including the Rocky Mountains, are currently facing drought conditions. While it is doubtful we will see a drought as massive as the 50-year drought of the 1200s, the harsh conditions are still present and put an exceptional strain on our older forests. Old and drought-starved trees are even more susceptible to bark beetle attacks as well as other diseases. The recent MPB infestation is in fact related to Lodgepole pine forests that are weak because of old age and drought. Local shifts in temperatures and moisture regimes as the worldwide climate shifts may move lower elevation limits of species like Piñon pine, Ponderosa pine, aspen and spruce upward. Aspen and spruce may have narrower elevational amplitude, meaning a decline in numbers.
The are a variety of things landowners can do during drought conditions:
- Maintain as much species diversity as possible on their lands.
- Monitor insect and disease incidence to facilitate prompt remedial treatments.
- Thin their forest stands periodically to minimize competition for moisture and nutrients between trees.
Climate change is a politically devisive topic. Let us take the politics out of land management! Short Forestry has the experience to assist landowners and forest managers in determining the most advantageous management regimes for their forests and woodlands. Call us today for a consultation.