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International Journal of Wildland Fire
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

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

Kristen Shive, Peter Fule, Carolyn Hull Sieg, Barbara Strom, Molly Hunter


Climate change impacts 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 impact 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 toward 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 emphasize the importance of flexible approaches to management in a changing climate.

WF13184  Accepted 22 April 2014
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