Part VI. What Can We do to Protect Forests from the Perils of Climate Change?
Part VI of “The Straight Facts on Forests, Carbon, and Global Warming,” an Oregon Wild report.
Jerry Franklin points out that "forest management can either exacerbate or reduce the effects of climatic change on the productivity and biological diversity of northwest forestscapes”1. To increase the chances that we will continue to enjoy the diverse benefits we receive from northwest forests, we must maintain and enhance their ability to respond to change. The key components of such a strategy are:
- Maintain biodiversity in all its dimensions. This will be critical, because genetic diversity is like a library of possibilities that have worked well during past climate variability, representing the sum of “tools” available for the future2.
- Protect intact native ecosystems where species relations have stood the test of time and remain robust;
- Provide refugia and allow species to migrate. Buffer and expand protected areas to provide connectivity along climatic gradients. Manage the entire landscape to be amenable to dispersal of native species.
- Protect streams. Cold water fish are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of increased winter flooding, reduced summer stream flow, and increased stream temperature. To mitigate expected effects on fish we should provide generous riparian buffers to help shade streams and maintain lower stream temperatures. To render streams more resilient to hydrologic extremes, such as flooding, we should manage whole watersheds to improve their ability to absorb, store, and slowly release water. This can be accomplished in part by reducing disturbance of vegetation and soils, reducing road densities, and retaining abundant woody debris.
 Dudley, Nigel. 1998. Forests And Climate Change - A report for WWF International November 1998. http://www.equilibriumconsultants.com/publications/docs/climatechangeandforests.pdf citing Franklin, J.F., F.J. Swanson, M.E. Harmon, D.A. Perry, T.A. Spies, V.H. Dale, A. McKee, W.K. Ferrell, J.E. Means, S.V. Gregory, J.D. Lattin, T.D. Scholwalter and D. Larsen (1992) ; Effects of Global Warming on
Forests in Northwestern America; The Northwest Environmental Journal; 7:233-254.
 Respected conservation biologist Reed Noss notes — "Among the land-use and management practices likely to maintain forest biodiversity and ecological functions during climate change are (1) representing forest types across environmental gradients in reserves; (2) protecting climatic refugia at multiple scales; (3) protecting primary forests; (4) avoiding fragmentation and providing connectivity, especially parallel to climatic gradients; (5) providing buffer zones for adjustment of reserve boundaries; (6) practicing low-intensity forestry and preventing conversion of natural forests to plantations; (7) maintaining natural fire regimes; (8) maintaining diverse gene pools; and (9) identifying and protecting functional groups and keystone species. Good forest management in a time of rapidly changing climate differs little from good forest management under more static conditions, but there is increased emphasis on protecting climatic refugia and providing connectivity.” Reed F. Noss (2001) Beyond Kyoto: Forest Management in a Time of Rapid Climate Change. Conservation Biology 15 (3), 578–590. See also, Nigel Dudley. 1998. Forests And Climate Change. Forest Innovations – a joint project of IUCN, GTZ and WWF. http://www.equilibriumconsultants.com/publications/docs/climatechangeandforests.pdf Others urge that we recognize that historic landscapes may not be a good model and recommend that we prepare ecosystems for climate change by being adaptive, proactive, value genetic diversity, and attempt to build resilient systems. James A. Harris, Richard J. Hobbs, Eric Higgs, and James Aronson. 2006. Ecological Restoration and Global Climate Change. Restoration Ecology Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 170–176 JUNE 2006.