Forest Service Using “Roadmap” to Help Adapt to Climate Change

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

The US Forest Service is bracing for the mounting affects of climate change, and Alaska is at the forefront of its efforts to adapt.  The agency came out with a “national roadmap for responding to climate change” last month, complete with a five-year plan to make forests more resilient.

Beth Pendleton, the regional forester for Alaska based in Juneau, says while some forests are already taking stock of changes, the Roadmap gets everyone on the same page.

Pendleton says employees at Alaska’s two national forests – the Tongass and the Chugach – have already been documenting the effects climate change.  She says the first step is assessing what changes are taking place – and what the long-term impacts will be.  Then they’ll have to prioritize how they should respond to the change that’s occurring.  The Forest Service’s climate change advisor in Washington, Dr. David Cleaves, says Alaska faces particular problems:

Cleaves says changes in the types of trees means changes to the forest as a whole.

Cleaves says the “roadmap” includes a score-card rating system all forest managers will use to see how they’re doing.  It looks at how employees are being trained and educated about climate change, and what kind of outreach they’re doing.

Chugach National Forest spokeswoman Sarah Boario in Anchorage says they’re already focused on trying to work with scientists and others to figure out how to cope.

Both the Tongass and Chugach forests are trying to ‘green’ their operations to be less wasteful of water and other resources at facilities – even if it only makes a small dent in overall US consumption and pollution.

Download Audio (MP3)