Recent Vermont Forest Stewardship findings are alarming concerning climate change and our Vermont forests. I will be attending Forest Stewardship meetings starting in September and hope to help in the creation of a comprehensive plan. Here is an excerpt from their recent report: Landscape-Based Forest Stewardship - A Regional Approach.
Specific impacts on forests of climate change are wide‐ranging. Increases in carbon dioxide and temperature may have a positive effect by increasing the rate of tree growth, but increased temperatures are also likely to increase evapotranspiration, soil drying, and the frequency of short‐term droughts. Spruce‐fir forests, common at higher elevations in the region, are likely to significantly decline as conditions warm. Only slightly less vulnerable are northern hardwood forests whose dominant species are sugar maple, yellow birch and American beech. These forests are expected to be nearly eliminated in Vermont, replaced by species that prefer the warmer drier conditions. Species that thrive in particular temperature ranges are likely to migrate from one area to another as temperature ranges change. Therefore, if Vermont has temperatures like those in Virginia in the summer, we can expect to start having the same species that reside in Virginia. In addition, first-leaf and first-bloom dates are projected to arrive around two days earlier per decade — arriving almost two weeks earlier by the end of the century.
The impacts of climate change on Vermont and the Northeast range from temperature and precipitation changes, species shifting, including Vermont’s prized sugar maple tree, to detrimental impacts on the ski industry and impacts on infrastructure, among many others. Maple syrup production is expected to be impacted in two ways. First, warmer temperatures diminish the quantity and quality of sap flow. It also shortens the tapping season and causes it to start earlier and not last as long. Second and perhaps more alarming, as the current climate in Vermont shifts northward, sugar maples may shift northward as well, leaving Vermont with a decline in sugar maple trees*.
*Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007. Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Science, Impacts, and Solutions, a report of the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment.
Solid unbroken forest is all around me, stretching far beyond my vision, for hundreds of miles. It is one of the few such forests remaining in the world. The forest regulates the water flow from the frequent heavy rains. It prevents floods, providing steady runoff into the trout-filled streams. It used to support salmon runs. Such a forest is also the diffuse lung tissue of the earth to which we are irrevocably bound. It is not our “environment.” It is us.
“The Trees in My Forest,” Bernd Heinrich, 1997
Source: Landscape-Based Forest Stewardship - A Regional Approach