Landscape restoration minimizes tree growth vulnerability to 21st century drought in a dry forest
John. B. Bradford, Caitlin A. Andrews, Marcos D. Robles, Lisa A. McCauley, Travis J. Woolley, Robert M. Marshall
Climate Change, Forest Restoration Benefits
With hotter temperatures and less precipitation projected in the future, reducing tree density is a possible strategy to minimize the impacts of drought on forest growth. Many forest restoration programs are focused reducing tree density to minimize wildfire risks, but it is unknown how these efforts will impact drought vulnerability. In this study, we looked at how the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) would alter landscape-scale patterns of forest growth and drought vulnerability throughout the 21st century. We found that hotter and drier conditions in the future could reduce tree growth, but the severity of drought and the magnitude of future growth declines was lessened by the thinning treatments. Compared to historical conditions, proportional tree growth by 2050 declines by ~40% if thinning continues at the status quo pace. By comparison, proportional growth declines by only 20% if the 4FRI thinning treatments are fully implemented, and < 10% if stands are thinned even more intensively. These results indicate that forest restoration projects designed for other objectives can also have substantial benefits for minimizing future drought vulnerability in dry forests and provide additional incentive to accelerate the pace of restoration.
Aerial view of the Parks West restoration site overseen by TNC. Taken March 16, 2020.
Conservancy staffers, Dale Turner and Amanda Rebore, helping to map the Sabn Pedro River in Arizona. They use a GPS unit to denote the end of the water flow on the LowerSan Pedro River. They hiked through the Conservancy’s San Pedro Preserve.
Our Approach to Science
The Nature Conservancy’s conservation science program in Arizona engages stakeholders and expertise in applied science and policy to develop new information, ideas, and tools that can help solve some of our most pressing challenges affecting people and nature
Explore Our Science
We are working with partners and stakeholders to accelerate the pace and scale of forest restoration for a healthy Arizona
Mapping the Status of River Streams
Wet/dry mapping provides a low-cost, river-wide snapshot of hydrologic conditions for rivers with interrupted perennial surface flows.
Ravindra Dwivedi, Joel A. Biederman, Patrick D. Broxton, Kangsan Lee, Willem J.D. van Leeuwen, Jessie K. Pearl
Forest density and snowpack stability regulate root zone water stress and percolation differently at two sites with contrasting ephemeral vs. stable seasonal snowpacks
Much of the western United States depends on high elevation snowpack in forested watersheds for water supply, wildlife habitat, and recreation in both adjacent and downstream communities. The forest-snow-water relationship is well studied in areas with stable – that is, cold – seasonal s[…]
Fire, Forest Restoration Benefits, Topic
Kimberley T. Davis, Marcos D. Robles, Kerry B. Kemp, Philip E. Higuera, Teresa Chapman, Kerry L. Metlen, Jamie L. Peeler, Kyle C. Rodman, Travis Woolley, Robert N. Addington, Brian J. Buma, C. Alina Cansler, Michael J. Case, Brandon M. Collins, Jonathan D. Coop, Solomon Z. Dobrowski, Nathan S. Gill, Collin Haffey, Lucas B. Harris, Brian J. Harvey, Ryan D. Haugo, Matthew D. Hurteau, Dominik Kulakowski, Caitlin E. Littlefield, Lisa A. McCauley, Nicholas Povak, Kristen L. Shive, Edward Smith, Jens T. Stevens, Camille S. Stevens-Rumann, Alan H. Taylor, Alan J. Tepley, Derek J. N. Young, Robert A. Andrus, Mike A. Battaglia, Julia K. Berkey, Sebastian U. Busby, Amanda R. Carlson, Marin E. Chambers, Erich Kyle Dodson, Daniel C. Donato, William M. Downing, Paula J. Fornwalt, Joshua S. Halofsky, Ashley Hoffman, Andrés Holz, Jose M. Iniguez, Meg A. Krawchuk, Mark R. Kreider, Andrew J. Larson, Garrett W. Meigs, John Paul Roccaforte, Monica T. Rother, Hugh Safford, Michael Schaedel, Jason S. Sibold, Megan P. Singleton, Monica G. Turner, Alexandra K. Urza, Kyra D. Clark-Wolf, Larissa Yocom, Joseph B. Fontaine, and John L. Campbell
Reduced fire severity offers near-term buffer to climate-driven declines in conifer resilience across the western United States
Warmer and drier climate conditions in western U.S. forests are making it less likely that trees can regenerate after wildfires, according to this study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Specifically, it found that warmer, drier conditions over the past four decades h[…]
San Pedro River
Dale Turner, Brooke Bushman, Lisa McCauley
San Pedro River Wet/Dry Map Animation
Every June groups of volunteers walk the entire 170 mile length of the San Pedro River and record where it is wet and where it is dry during the hottest, driest time of the year. Twenty years’ worth of data on summertime surface flows in the San Pedro River within the San Pedro Riparian National C[…]