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BENEFITS OF FORESTS The value of the worlds forests30 of the Earths land surfaceas a biological economic and climate mitigation resource cannot be overstated. They are home to 80 of the worlds terrestrial biodiversity.1 They provide an enormous economic benefit in the form of water quality management with about 80 freshwater in the U.S. originating within forests.2 They absorb about one-third of the annual global carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels3 and account for as much as 45 of the carbon stored on land.4 Forests also provide us with fresh air shelter and fuelwood and supply the wood for countless products including the fiber for paper products. Investing in sustainable management of our working forests today will keep the forest products industry viable and maintain land in forests. COMMERCIAL FORESTRY AND CLIMATE CHANGE A changing climate brings new risk to the management of North Americas commercial forests but also new opportuni- ties. The key is applying the right forest management tech- niques to take advantage of opportunities and lower risks. Risks include drought and heat stress which increase the likelihood of fires and disease potentially reducing productiv- ity and ultimately causing forest die-off. The USDAs Forest Service states on their Climate Change Resource Center site Pathogens that incite tree diseases include fungi bacteria viruses parasitic plants nematodes and other microorgan- isms.5 Pest infestations like pine beetles are also more likely either directly by allowing pest populations to increase and expand their range or indirectly by making trees more vulner- able to attack because they are stressed. Pest wounds can pro- vide another opportunity for pathogens to enter trees. Another risk to commercial forestry is tree species shifting ranges. The U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station Research Review Autumn 2010 provides a nice illustration of how this may happen Trees cope with stress in the only way they canmature trees will start producing more seeds. Those seeds will travel as they usually do some will simply roll downhill others will be carried by wind or water others by bird or squirrel power. Those that arrive in suitable places may sprout and grow.6 Due to changes in our cli- mate once unsuitable places will become quite hospitable thus leading to a shift in range of many North American tree species. From a commercial standpoint this is similar to a farmer no longer being able to grow the same crops that he was used to growing. This is especially true in the South where companies operate the most like farmers who focus on a particular species like Loblolly pine in the Southeast. Extensive genetic research is conducted on single spe- cies resulting in the identification of specific strains that will grow fast straight and with the least knots. When conditions change such as more drought landowners increasingly have the ability to switch strains to ones that are more drought resistant. In short a lot of what foresters are doing already is preparing them for a changing climate. But many havent fully appreciat- ed that what they are doing is preparing for a changing climate. In the North the focus shifts more to hardwoods. These companies rely more on natural regeneration like the descrip- tion above from the U.S. Forest Serviceseeds and the right growing conditions. This approach also provides for more spe- cies diversity. Tree species will more naturally shift with chang- ing conditions like temperature. On the other hand climate change can bring some positives such as a longer growing season with warmer temperatures and elevated CO2 levels which will increase growth rates. Improved growing conditions in some regions will create the ability to grow more valuable specieswhere they were previ- ously unproductive. In this light tree species shifting ranges is a new economic advantage. From left to right Si Balch Manomet Forest Consultant Eric Walberg Senior Program Leader of Climate Services Al Lyons Hancock Timber Resource Group headquarterd in Alabama. 1 World Wildlife Fund. 2015. Forest Habitat. Retrieved from httpwww.worldwildlife. orghabitatsforest-habitat 2 Sedell J. et al. 2000. Water and the Forest Service. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. 3 CSIRO Australia. 2011 August 10. Forests absorb one third of fossil fuel emissions study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 26 2015 from releases201108110810093835.htm 4 Carlowicz M. 2012 January. Seeing Forests for the Trees and the Carbon Mapping the Worlds Forests in Three Dimensions. Retrieved from FeaturesForestCarbon 5 U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Forest Tree Diseases and Climate Change. Retrieved from httpwww.fs.usda.govccrctopicsforest-disease 6 US FOREST SERVICE NORTHERN RESEARCH STATION. 2010. Study Suggests Tree Ranges are Already Shifting due to Climate Change. Retrieved from httpwww.fs.fed.usnrs newsreviewreview-vol11.pdf 10 Manomet Partnerships for Sustainability Summer 2015