SRS Publishes Global Change Research Strategy

on March 5, 2012 2:22 PM EST

Climate
SRS publishes global change research strategy (Photo: Flickr.com/fotdmike)

In March 2012, the Southern Research Station (SRS) published the Southern Research Station Global Change Research Strategy, 2011-2019, a Science Update that outlines SRS research priorities over the next decade in relation to climate change.

Southern forests are invaluable, providing essential goods and services to the region's people. As just one example, forests filter about 60 percent of the Southeast's drinking water. Other "ecosystem services" provided by forests include clean air, habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms, as well as recreation and livelihoods for humans.

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As climate change progresses, the South's natural and human systems will have to adapt in order to survive; some species may have to move from their current locations and habitats. At local levels, some forest ecosystems are already under stress from weather pattern variations and more susceptible to other disturbances such as wildfire, insects, diseases and invasive plants.

Land managers addressing the challenges of changing weather patterns have questions about specific effects on forests and the organisms that inhabit them. Managers also want to know how to craft management practices that maintain the health of forests and the important role they play in sequestering carbon, which to some extent mitigates the increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that have led to the temperature variability and extreme weather events tied to changing climate.

The SRS strategy follows that of the Forest Service Global Climate Change Research Strategy by balancing research across a range of management, science, and science delivery actions. The primary focus of all of the activities covered in the strategy is to increase understanding of southern forest ecosystems so that they can be managed in a way that sustains and provides ecosystem services for future generations.

The SRS strategy describes research goals, needs, and near-term products in four key areas. The first area focuses on adaptation, on research that will help develop management options that ensure and reduce losses of ecosystem services from climate-altered disturbances such as wildfire, insects, and invasive plant and animal species.

The second area covers mitigation, research that will help forest managers develop actions to enhance carbon sequestration by increasing forest growth rates and the area of forested lands; increase the understanding of the long-term storage of carbon; and further the sustainable use of biomass for energy.

The third area-research to provide decision support-integrates the first two areas by discussing decision-support tools and approaches for land managers, policymakers, and planners. The fourth area focuses on shared research needs and the infrastructure and collaboration needed to generate new knowledge and applications for adaptation, mitigation decision support, and science delivery.

The publication reviews SRS research program strategies in relation to climate change, and is designed to support a full range of stakeholders, including Forest Service National Forest System managers and planners; other Federal, state, and local land managers; private landowners; industry and investment management organizations; and the interested public.

Source: USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station

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