Climate change is already having a measurable impact on our forests. Expanding protections for our public lands and reforming our outdated forest management practices would not only help us reduce excess carbon emissions, but would also help make Oregon’s forest ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate.
By protecting and restoring our forests, we can bolster the resilience of our watersheds. As the climate warms, Oregon will continue to see more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow, more floods and landslides, and more frequent and prolonged droughts. Healthy watersheds with low road density, mature trees, and intact stream buffers provide a natural system for slowing run-off, storing and filtering water, and reducing the risk of landslides. Mature and intact forests also provide shade that keeps streams cool and oxygenated for salmon and trout. (Read more about our work to protect Oregon’s rivers and streams here).
Plants and Animals
One of the best ways we can help plants and animals adapt to climate change is by expanding protections for public lands and creating habitat connectivity corridors. Large, intact wild areas, such as Wilderness, Monuments, and roadless areas, facilitate the migration of species to higher latitudes and elevations where they can find cooler areas or more suitable habitat. For example, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon links together several ecoregions and mountain ranges, and spans a wide elevation range, all vital in a changing climate. (Read more about our work to protect Oregon’s wildlife here).
Fires are a natural part of Oregon’s forests, but as the planet warms we are seeing hotter, drier summers and longer fire seasons. Studies show that old-growth forests are much more resilient to forest fires compared to young, dense tree plantations. Protecting these older forests, and using controlled burns to reduce the risk of unnaturally severe fires can help restore more natural forest structure and enhance their resilience to a changing climate. (Read more about wildfires here).