Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework

Patricia Leopold
Posted on: 6/13/2013 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

Posted by

Patricia Leopold

Project Summary

The Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework covers almost 26 million acres in eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and western Maryland within Ecological Provinces M221 (Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest) and 221 (Eastern Broadleaf Forest – Oceanic) of the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units. Provinces are broad geographic areas that share similar coarse features, such as climate, glacial history, and vegetation types. The shaded area on the map below shows the assessment area, a landscape comprised of some of the oldest and most biologically diverse forests in North America. Understanding and managing the impacts of climate change on the Central Appalachians’ diverse forests will help us maintain their many environmental, cultural, and economic benefits.

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A team representing federal and state land management agencies, private forest owners, conservation organizations and others from Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia have come together to accomplish three objectives:

  1. Provide a forum in which the experiences and lessons learned of those working across the Central Appalachians can be effectively and efficiently shared with all.
  2. Develop new user-friendly tools that can help public and private land managers to factor climate change considerations into their decision making, including a forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and a forest adaptation resources document.
  3. Support efforts by public land managers, private landowners, and others to implement adaptive responses to climate change impacts in the Central Appalachians.


The Climate Change Response Framework is a highly collaborative approach to helping land managers understand the potential effects of climate change on forest ecosystems and integrating climate change considerations into management. Since 2009, the Framework projects have worked to bridge the gap between scientific research on climate change impacts and on-the-ground management. There are currently three ecoregional Framework Projects that encompass 133 million acres in eight states, including 11 National Forests. The Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework was launched in 2012.


There are multiple components of this project, many of which are in development in the Central Appalachians:

Partnerships are being established to bring together local forest owners, managers and others to discuss the ecological and management challenges of climate change and to evaluate opportunities for partnerships. Scientists and management partnerships are being developed to discuss available and needed research and monitoring of climate change and climate change impacts, and potential application of science across the Central Appalachians.

A vulnerability assessment for the Central Appalachians region was initiated in 2012. The vulnerability assessment focuses on vulnerabilities of forest ecosystems within the region and uses gridded historical and modeled climate change information as well as several different approaches to modeling impacts on tree species. A panel of scientists and managers will combine this information with their own expertise to put scientific results to assess the impacts, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability of Central Appalachians forest ecosystems to climate change. 

Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate change tools and approaches for land managers provides perspectives, information, and tools to help managers incorporate climate change considerations into management and adapt forest ecosystems to a changing climate. This document is currently being revised for forests in the Central Appalachians.

After completion of the vulnerability assessment and revision of the Forest Adaptation Resources, adaptation projects will provide real-world examples of forest management activities that incorporate climate change considerations and foster better-adapted forests, while meeting an array of management objectives.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Efforts continue on multiple aspects of this project, including the creation of a forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and the development of local partnerships. A working draft of the vulnerability assessment and synthesis is expected in late summer 2013. For more information, visit http://forestadaptation.org/central-appalachians.


Butler, P. (2013). Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework [Case study on a project of the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science]. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/central-appalachians-climate-change-response… (Last updated June 2013)

Project Contacts

Affiliated Organizations

The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) has been designed as a collaborative effort among the Forest Service, universities, and forest industry to provide information on managing forests for climate change adaptation, enhanced carbon sequestration, and sustainable production of bioenergy and materials.

Related Resources