The Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) has recently released a new education resource on climate change effects on forests and grasslands. The CCRC is an online, nationally-relevant resource that connects land managers and decision-makers with useable science to address climate change in planning and application. The CCRC plays a key role in the USDA Climate Hubs’ effort to help land managers (the Forest Service, other agencies, and the general public) understand and respond to a changing climate.
Clear, engaging, and scientifically accurate climate education is an important part of the process for incorporating climate change into natural resource management. Natural resource managers are already witnessing changes in their forests and rangelands that are associated with the changing climate. These include increased droughts, more widespread insect outbreaks, longer fire seasons, and earlier starts to growing seasons. In order to foster and maintain healthy forests and rangelands into the future, land managers need to understand how climate change is affecting forest ecosystems right now and what they can expect in the future. Unlike traditional farming, the forests we establish now are a long-term investment and must be able to survive and thrive many decades into the future. This requires that forest managers have an understanding of the stresses that lie ahead for the landscapes they manage.
The module, “Climate Change Effects on Forests and Grasslands: What You Need to Know”, gives a brief overview of the effects of climate change on water resources, vegetation growth, wildlife, and disturbances. The first education module, “Climate Change Science and Modeling”, provides a basic climate change foundation, and this new module builds on that foundation by examining climate change effects around the country. Both modules were developed to educate land managers and the general public about the causes and impacts of a changing climate on landscapes across the country. The module is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/climate-basics/education/climate-change-effects.