About the Workshop
There is strong and growing evidence that suggests profound impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems and their health. Already, instances of tree mortality, insect outbreaks, and altered forest fire patterns have been at least partially attributed to climate change, and future projections indicate additional and more dramatic changes on the horizon. Adequately understanding and responding to these changes will be a critical challenge for resource managers in the coming decades.
In light of this situation, For the Forest, in collaboration with the USFS White River National Forest, seeks to develop a “Forest Health Index” (FHI) and “State of the Forest Report” that would help engage the local Roaring Fork community on forest issues and provide information to forest management agencies, and other landscape-scale managers, on the state of the forest in the context of a changing climate and other environmental conditions. An initial launch of the FHI is set to occur in June 2012.
As a way to support the development of this innovative FHI, it has been suggested that a small group of high-level experts gather together to provide focused input that informs the development of FHI as well as explores how the FHI could be enhanced as a decision-making tool through the design and implementation of a bioclimatic monitoring program that would provide metrics on forest ecosystem health in the context of climate change.
A bioclimatic monitoring system as an integrated component of an FHI could provide a real-time pulse on the vital signs of our local forest. Temperature, wind speed, precipitation, soil moisture, carbon flux and sequestration, nitrogen deposition, solar input, as well as phenological indicators such as bud burst timing, tree growth rate, and species migration patterns are examples of key variables. Prioritizing which measurements are most necessary and determining the appropriate equipment and prototcols for the region would be a key task of this ad hoc expert group. The group will be tasked with outlining what can be accomplished with a few key variables and modest budget that produces the greatest utility for resource managers in the context of climate change.
Therefore, to support this effort, the Aspen Global Change Institute is bringing together experts on bioclimatic monitoring, forest ecology, adaptive management, and climate change to provide input on the development of a Forest Health Index and the priorities components of a bioclimatic monitoring system that could inform the public and resource managers in the Roaring Fork Valley.