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Focus on Forestlands in the Southeast

Climate Impacts

The majority of southeastern forests are privately owned. These landowners are facing increasing and emerging threats from many sources, including climate variability. Forest ecosystems are becoming more vulnerable to disturbance and mortality from disease, drought, insects, and wildland fire. Seven of the eleven southeastern states have experienced 35 or more billion-dollar weather or climate disasters since 1980, more than any other region (NOAA NCDC). Changes in land use and land cover are occurring more rapidly in the Southeast than most other areas of the nation and often interact with and amplify the effects of climate variability on ecosystems across the region. Southern forests are also vulnerable to decreased water availability, hurricanes, and sea level rise. The southeastern US has more wildland fires per year than any other region, and the trend is increasing. The Southeast also has the greatest frequency of lightning strikes, and increasing temperatures will contribute to lightning-initiated wildland fires.

Current and Emerging Risks to Southeast U.S. Forests

View this presentation from Kelsey Bakken at the 21st Biennial Southern Silviculture Conference to learn more about forest threats in the Southeastern United States

Adaptive Management to Ongoing Forest Threats

Management practices may be used to mitigate disturbance effects and sustain forest health and productivity. For example, selecting mixes of tree species or species adapted to a range of growth and disturbance conditions can improve forest resilience to multiple threats and stresses. Reducing stand densities can reduce wildland fire, insect, and disease risks and help to alleviate drought or water supply shortages. Modifying rotation length and harvesting practices can increase tolerance to environmental changes. Keeping residual vegetation on site will mitigate increasing soil temperatures and help to conserve nutrients and soil moisture. Bioenergy markets for wood could assist with forest regeneration after drought, insects, and wildland fire, and the southeastern US has among the highest potential for biomass resources from existing forestland.  

Strategic Forest Planning Under a Changing Climate>

TACCIMO, the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options, connects the best available climate science with management options for adapting to or abating future changes.

To learn more about TACCIMO, View this presentation:

Landowner Resources for Hurricanes and Soil Salinization in the Southeastern U.S.

View this presentation by Nancy Gibson, at the 21st Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference, to learn how these resources can help producers build resilience to hurricanes and soil salinization.

Download the Identification, Mitigation, and Adaptation to Salinization on Working Lands in the U.S. Southeast manual to learn how to identify the stage, cause and likely progression of salinization on working lands, mitigation options if possible, and if not, adaptation strategies that are available.

View and download Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for 23 of the most economically important commodities in the Southeastern U.S.

Developing Tools

Developing a New Field Tool for Accessing Forest Management Information

View this presentation by Elijah Worley, at the 21st Biennial Southern Silvicultural Conference, to learn about the Forest Operations Resource Tool (FORT) being developed by the USDA SE Climate Hub.

Forest Adaptive Management Online User System (FAMOUS): The future of forest management

View this presentation by Eva Paradiso, at the 21st Biennial Southern Silvicultural Conference, to learn about a tool in development that will connect strategic forest planning with operational and adaptive management.