USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub Assessment of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies
Climate-related variability in rainfall, temperature, and extreme weather (e.g., drought, flood, unseasonal frost) pose significant challenges to working land (i.e., range, forest, and agricultural) managers across the southeastern United States. These and other unpredictable stressors are exacerbated by increasing human pressures to natural landscapes, including urbanization, population growth, and land use change.
The USDA established the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH) to better understand and address this combination of environmental and human pressures across the Southeast through a combination of research, outreach, and extension to land managers. The mission of SERCH is “to increase working land resilience to climate related stress across the southeastern U.S., serving as the leading source of adaptation tools and information in support of State and Federal extension, and private consultants who directly work with land managers.”
The SERCH footprint covers eleven States: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. These States have a rich agricultural and forestry history dating back before the origins of the United States. The importance of southeastern forestry and agriculture (e.g., lumber, cotton, peanuts, tobacco) has been integral to the development of the U.S. economy and expanded into the 20th century (e.g., citrus, poultry, swine). Even as the southeastern agricultural, forestry, and rangeland sectors continue to expand, they face pressures from population growth and land fragmentation, which are becoming ever-increasing challenges. In combination with these human pressures, climate change is likely to exacerbate adverse effects on these industries.
This document outlines the type of risks that southeastern agriculture and forestry currently face and, in some cases, options to address these risks, and looks to provide direction on the priority needs of Southeast working land managers and an outline of how SERCH will address those needs.