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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(7)

Managing burned landscapes: evaluating future management strategies for resilient forests under a warming climate

K. L. Shive A C , P. Z. Fulé A , C. H. Sieg B , B. A. Strom A and M. E. Hunter A

A School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, PO Box 15018, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA.
B USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2500 Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: kls448@nau.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(7) 915-928 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13184
Submitted: 29 October 2013  Accepted: 22 April 2014   Published: 13 August 2014


 
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Abstract

Climate change effects on forested ecosystems worldwide include increases in drought-related mortality, changes to disturbance regimes and shifts in species distributions. Such climate-induced changes will alter the outcomes of current management strategies, complicating the selection of appropriate strategies to promote forest resilience. We modelled forest growth in ponderosa pine forests that burned in Arizona’s 2002 Rodeo–Chediski Fire using the Forest Vegetation Simulator Climate Extension, where initial stand structures were defined by pre-fire treatment and fire severity. Under extreme climate change, existing forests persisted for several decades, but shifted towards pinyon–juniper woodlands by 2104. Under milder scenarios, pine persisted with reduced growth. Prescribed burning at 10- and 20-year intervals resulted in basal areas within the historical range of variability (HRV) in low-severity sites that were initially dominated by smaller diameter trees; but in sites initially dominated by larger trees, the range was consistently exceeded. For high-severity sites, prescribed fire was too frequent to reach the HRV’s minimum basal area. Alternatively, for all stands under milder scenarios, uneven-aged management resulted in basal areas within the HRV because of its inherent flexibility to manipulate forest structures. These results emphasise the importance of flexible approaches to management in a changing climate.

Additional keywords: Arizona, Climate–Forest Vegetation Simulator, high severity, juniper, pinyon pine, ponderosa pine, prescribed fire, Rodeo–Chediski, uneven-aged management.


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