Organization: Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Research Title: Forest Global Change

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 22.0
FY95 23.0
FY96 17.1

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Research Subcommittee (45%) Global Change Research Subcommittee (35%) Water Resources/Coastal and Marine Environments Research Subcommittee (20%) NSTC Committee on Fundamental Science
(b) Environmental Issue: Understanding Processes (60%); Determining Rate and Consequences of Change (20%) Obtaining Information Base (20%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Understanding (50%); Impacts and Adaptation: Ecosystems (40%) Integrated Assessment (10%)

Organizational Component:
AG Box 2241
Washington, D.C. 20250-2241

Point of Contact:
Elvia Niebla
Phone 202-205-1561
E-Mail: /s=e.niebla/ou1=w)

Research Goals:
Provides scientific information to support wise decisions on forest management policy in the face of current uncertainty about global change.

Research Description:
All Forest Service Global Change Research Program (FSGCRP) projects contribute to one or more of four major program elements. The atmosphere/biosphere gas and energy exchange program element examines the way climate and atmospheric chemistry impact, or are changed by, the biological world. The second program element, disturbance ecology, assesses the potential impact that increased occurrences and severity of fire, insects, and disease episodes may have on forest ecosystems. As the third component, ecosystem dynamics focuses on the response of terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems to global change, analyzes the plant and animal composition of the system - including threatened and endangered species - evaluates water quality and quantity, and assesses environmental impacts on vegetation and soils. Finally, human activities and natural resource interactions research addresses the way global change will impact human activities and how human activities, through agriculture and resource management, in a changed environment will affect forest and rangelands.

Program Interfaces:
Primary interfaces are with National Forest Systems; DOI agencies (F&WS, NPS, BIA, and BLM); other USDA agencies (ARS, SCS, CSRS); EPA; NASA; NOAA; DOE; conservation groups; university scientists and research institutes; State forestry agencies; natural resources, and environmental quality agencies; and foreign governments.

Program Milestones:
In 1994, predict changes in species composition and distribution from global change; identify adaptive mechanisms of species in forest ecosystems and their implications for Ecosystem Management; complete models capable of predicting ecosystem response to climate change and other stressors; model the output of forest fire smoke under various global change projections and incorporate pest damage as a function of climate in forest output projections; and identify historical relationships among climate change, ecosystem conditions, and society. In 1995, develop models capable of integrating ecosystem impacts into Ecosystem Management planning, and develop interim assessments of findings and recommendations for future research; interface models with GCMs through interagency and other collaborative modeling efforts; initiate field research on trace gas emissions from Boreal forest ecosystems; incorporate forest pest and fire disturbance in terrestrial ecosystem models; detect expected changes in resource outputs and values in forest health and productivity; and identify how associated values will change the way society uses forest resources in order to integrate changes into policy and Ecosystem Management planning. In 1996, increase our understanding of ecosystem management in the context of global environmental changes by accelerating a national assessment of the effects of global change on forest ecosystems and human interactions with forests; test models and accelerate Boreal field experiments (focus on gas emissions from large forest fires); determine projected forest fire occurrence on global basis as a function of GCM output; provide assessment of strategies for mitigating increased forest pest damage with global change; and conduct an economic analysis of biological impacts to use as a management tool enabling the Forest Service, State, and private landowners to determine how to allocate limited resources in protecting forests.

Policy Payoffs:
FSGCRP has as one of its objectives the provision of scientific information for policymakers and land use managers. It shares a common goal with the Resource Planning Act (RPA) assessment of identifying current and future forest conditions and alternative policy responses. Plans to share data bases and coordinate modeling efforts with the RPA assessment will strengthen the Forest Service leadership role in assessing the impacts of global change on society. The Forest Service has worked with other Federal agencies under the Subcommittee of Global Change structure to develop the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The FSGCRP continues to be active in the process and supports Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) goals and objectives. The Forest Service has also been active in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) planning and the FSGCRP incorporates knowledge gained in those activities.