Operational approaches to managing forests of the future in Mediterranean regions within a context of changing climates

Stephens, S.L. et al., 2010. Environmental Research Letters

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Abstract

Many US forest managers have used historical ecology information to assist in the development of desired conditions. While there are many important lessons to learn from the past, we believe that we cannot rely on past forest conditions to provide us with blueprints for future management. To respond to this uncertainty, managers will be challenged to integrate adaptation strategies into plans in response to changing climates. Adaptive strategies include resistance options, resilience options, response options, and realignment options. Our objectives are to present ideas that could be useful in developing plans under changing climates that could be applicable to forests with Mediterranean climates. We believe that managing for species persistence at the broad ecoregion scale is the most appropriate goal when considering the effects of changing climates. Such a goal relaxes expectations that current species ranges will remain constant, or that population abundances, distribution, species compositions and dominances should remain stable. Allowing fundamental ecosystem processes to operate within forested landscapes will be critical. Management and political institutions will have to acknowledge and embrace uncertainty in the future since we are moving into a time period with few analogs and inevitably, there will be surprises.

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