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Author Topic: Climate change  (Read 1761 times)

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Offline flatrock

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Climate change
« on: May 05, 2007, 10:58:13 AM »
The area where I own a forest is forecast for the following climate changes this century.   Warmer winters, hotter summers, 5 to 10% more rainfall.  The rainfall is supposed to be more episodic in nature with long dry spells between rainfall events.  Assuming any of this will actually occur which oak group could best handle this type of climate change.  Red oaks or white oaks? Or neither perhaps pine?  Red oak group in my area would be northern & southern red oak & white oak would also include post oak.  The forecast climate almost describes the way the climate has been locally for decades with the exception of the increased rainfall & warmer winters.  After the end of July it typically doesnt rain for some time & we go into an annual drought season.

Offline Riles

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Re: Climate change
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2007, 12:31:11 PM »
The trees that grow best on your land today are the ones that will grow best on your land for the rest of your lifetime. Despite the hype, and regardless whether it's true or not, climate trends don't occur fast enough for you to worry about changing forest types.

It is conceivable that a drought will hit you and do serious damage to your forest.  That's true with or without climate change. It's possible you have a species on the very edge of it's natural habitat that will be affected by the first, slightest permanent change of climate. It's also possible that your entire forest will be wiped out in a meteor strike.

Trees planted outside their natural range (or left behind in a climate change) can be out-competed by better adapted species, but they generally still grow there. (Would you like a redwood? They just don't get as big). Extreme examples of off site planting notwithstanding.

If you'd like to check out a species natural range, you can look them up at

Just remember they're estimates.
Knowledge is good -- Faber College

Offline flatrock

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Re: Climate change
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2007, 06:24:26 PM »
Thanks for the excellent info.  I agree nothing will happen in my lifetime Im thinking more about what trees I choose not to cut for the next harvest that hopefully will be for my kids and grand kids.  Historically, this area was burned frequently and at one time was savanna with far fewer trees per acre and primarily white oak.  Its now loaded with red oak and not as many white oaks.   Some people say thats not natural.    Im not worried about meteors but it seems as if there are more tornados than there used to be and we had a doozy last year that stopped about a mile from our forest property ripping & twisting hundreds of trees like toothpicks.  The last drought here along with the red oak borer  led to large oak decline event in this area affecting older red oaks. They died in large numbers.  I guess you can tell Im wondering why I wouldnt want to harvest to favor white oaks or least make sure they are represented well as keeper trees along with some red oak.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Climate change
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2007, 07:16:32 PM »
The reason that you had more white oaks in the past is that white oak is more of a climax species than red oak.  If past management practices were to cut firewood and leave big trees in case you needed a barn, then your stand would approach more of the climax type of forest.

Today's management is more on the intermediate species and involves cutting when trees are seemingly mature.  That has also led to diameter limit cutting and that also leads to more intermediate species, since it is more of a drastic cut.

The other thing you would have to consider is the current microclimate on your land.  If its a frost pocket, you can get away with colder species.  There are places where spruce is growing in PA, due to being in a frost pocket.  Conversely, I have seen stands that had shortleaf pine that was growing on with a southern exposure.  It would not survive with a northern exposure. 

Then you have the moisture thing where some areas just get more than other areas.  Storms seem to get caught in certain valleys.  You would also consider how well the soil holds moisture.  Sandy soil gets dry, so a tree that adapts to dryer conditions would thrive better than one that needs good moisture.

I always hate attaching strings to your property.  It gives someone else a little more control and you a little less.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Pilot

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Re: Climate change
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2007, 08:36:56 PM »
I have no local knowledge of your site conditions or forest type, so I offer just a thoughts for anyone concerned about forest management in an era of global warming. 

We are living in an era of uncertainty.  Although the concensus supports global warming theory, our former state climatologist (got his title pulled by the governor for his heresy) and a few others can put on a pretty good lecture showing all the shortcomings of the theory and even some contradictory evidence.  What if he is right and the majority are wrong?  It has happened before.  And if the majority is right, as it becomes more and more apparent there is a problem, governments will be forced to take action to stop it, so the extreme predictions will not likely happen.  But unpredictable events might intervene.  The period 1811-1817 was unusually cold in New England, and 1816 went down in history as the "year of no summer", with ice forming in lakes an inch thick on June 7.  On July 8th in New Hampshire, frost killed the bean crop.  In August, frost killed corn, potatoes, beans and vines.  The cold summers have been attributed to a series of volcanic eruptions around the world.  This could happen even with global warming.  Here in the Northwest, in 1955 we had a warm spell in December and trees broke bud in winter.  With or without global warming, you can never be sure what the weather will do.

So the question is how to manage a forest in an era of uncertainty?

Here are some ideas.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  It is probably not wise to ask which one species to plant, but rather, how many of which of several species should I plant?  A monoculture increases your risk.  Plant multiple species that you see working on your site or similar sites now.  I see in the Silvics book that there are many other species associated with red oak.  What else grows on your site or similar sites?  Which are marketable?

If you plant multiple species, have a plan for managing them.  Figure out now, how you are going to manage them over time, how  and when you are going to thin.  Also, think about what to do if any one species is wiped out or heavily damaged by some agent, perhaps bugs associated with climate change or maybe introduced. 

Go for short rotations.  Short rotations give you the chance to adapt peridically as conditions change or new information becomes available.

Species vary in many characteristics over their range.  That's why we have seed zones.  If you are a believer in global warming, then whatever species you choose to plant, you might want to obtain seedlings grown for the neighboring seed zone to your south.  I wouldn't go too far south, because you don't want to be stuck with poorly adapted trees if global warming doesn't happen as predicted or if we succeed in stopping it.

There are probably other strategies for forest management in an area of global warming.  What ideas do others have?

Richard Scott
Retired Silviculturist


Offline SPIKER

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Re: Climate change
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2007, 12:39:55 AM »
if you believe every thing you read perhaps our Canadian brothers should be planting palm & coconut  trees!

(all kidding aside planning ahead is good just try & not predict the weather so much as like most places if you don't like the weather wait an hour or two it will change.)

Mark M
I'm looking for help all the shrinks have given up on me :o

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