Droughts Have More Devastating Effects On Forests Than Thought: US Forest Service Study

Posted: Feb 2 2016, 2:09am CST | by , Updated: Feb 2 2016, 8:51pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Droughts May Have More Devastating Effects on Forests than Thought: US Forest Service Study
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U.S. Forest Service releases a detailed study on the effects of drought for forests and rangelands.

Many would think drought simply means lack of water, but in reality it is much more than that. This inevitable, recurring natural event can affect environment in many ways and can have strong, long-term impact on society and economy.

A new report released by U.S. Forest Service highlights the effects of drought on the forests and rangelands in the United States and they are devastating indeed. The report is aimed to find appropriate ways to quantify and monitor drought, understand and assess the damage done to trees or forest and to identify potential adaptation strategies to mitigate its effects 

According to the report drought and warmer temperatures can make some regions of the United States extremely dry which, in turn, can lead to sharp variations in precipitation. If this pattern continues, the effects of drought itself will also be amplified.  

Drought may also increase the risk of larger wildfires and large-scale insect outbreak especially in Western U.S. The most negative impact will naturally be on forest based products such as trees, water and habitats of bird and animals and it could accelerate the deaths of trees and shrubs, destroy habitats and bring massive changes to ecosystems.

“Our forests and rangelands are national treasures and because they are threatened, we are threatened,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This report confirms what we are seeing, that every region of the country is impacted by the direct and indirect effects of drought conditions and volatile weather patterns.”

“Sixty million Americans rely on drinking water that originates on our 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They support 200,000 jobs and contribute to over $13 billion to local economies every year.”

The 300-page report, which is authored by 77 scientists from the Forest Service and other federal agencies, establishes a comprehensive baseline of available data that can help land managers in improving drought resilience efforts and adaptation polices. 

“Since 2000, fire seasons have grown longer and the frequency, size and severity of wildfires have increased,” said Vilsack. “Among the many benefits of having this solid baseline data is the improved ability to identify where restoration work can help forests adapt and prosper while minimizing the threat and impact of future wildfires.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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