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Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resource Management > FWNRM Blog > Posts > (Final day) Preparing for drought: Forest management strategies to increase forest resiliency

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Today we conclude going through some silvicultural practices forest landowners and managers can use to promote good health and resiliency to prepare for drought by focusing on the benefits of eliminating and controlling invasive species and an overall summary and conclusion.  

 

Eliminate and control invasive species:

  • Many invasive exotic species outcompete native species for resources
  • Removing invasive species eliminates additional competition for resources and stress to trees

Invasive species can rapidly encroach native systems and cause stress to forests that can make them more vulnerable to drought. Removing invasive species and preventing establishment is essential for eliminating and controlling their spread. The picture below is Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) an invasive plant species of ecosystems in Alabama and across the Southeast.  

 chinese privet1.jpg

Drought causes stress to trees and stressed trees experience poor growth and health that increase the risk of insect pest attacks and disease. Specifically, drought can cause decreased growth and poor health, decreased resistance to disease and insects, increased risk of catastrophic wildfire, and tree mortality. Proactively managing your forest with appropriate silvicultural practices can minimize these risks associated with drought when it occurs.

The management practices highlighted over the last few days are focused on improving the overall health and vigor of your forest. As I mentioned earlier in the week, healthy forests are better equipped to withstand and recover from drought and many risks to forests associated with drought, but that does not mean they are drought-proof.

In summary, species selection for planting is critical to the long-term health of a stand. Planting the wrong species on a site can result in poor survival, growth, and vigor. Thinning reduces overcrowded conditions, increases nutrient and water availability to remaining trees, and removes trees in poor health. Prescribe fire provides many benefits including reduced competition and reduced fuel loads that can minimize the risks of catastrophic fire. However, prescribe fire can cause stress to trees and should be avoided during times when trees are already experiencing stress from other factors, especially for forests systems not burned regularly. Taking account of the current condition of your forest and proper timing is essential when using prescribed fire.

Specific site conditions, environmental factors, and landowner objectives should be considered in forest management. For assistance with managing your forest, contact your local forestry professional.

 

Multiple workshops on the effects of drought on forests and forest management practices that help minimize the impact of drought will be offered by ACES professionals at different locations across the state of Alabama this summer. Specific locations, dates and times will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Additional information on invasive species can be found at:

http://www.aces.edu/natural-resources/invasive-species/index.php

Additional information on drought can be found at:

https://www.drought.gov/drought/

Additional information on forest management and drought can be found at:

http://www.pinemap.org/

For further information on forest drought or the upcoming forest drought workshops, contact Adam Maggard at (334)-844-2401 or adm0074@aces.edu.


*Picture citation: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org


 


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