Central Appalachians Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis: A Report from the Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework Project
Forest ecosystems in the Central Appalachians will be affected directly and indirectly by a changing climate over the 21st century. This assessment evaluates the vulnerability of forest ecosystems in the Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest-Coniferous Forest-Meadow and Eastern Broadleaf Forest Provinces of Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland for a range of future climates. Information on current forest conditions, observed climate trends, projected climate changes, and impacts on forest ecosystems was considered by a multidisciplinary panel of scientists, land managers, and academics in order to assess ecosystem vulnerability to climate change. Appalachian (hemlock)/northern hardwood forests, large stream floodplain and riparian forests, small stream riparian forests, and spruce/fir forests were determined to be the most vulnerable. Dry/mesic oak forests and dry oak and oak/pine forests and woodlands were determined to be least vulnerable. Projected changes in climate and the associated impacts and vulnerabilities will have important implications for economically valuable timber species, forest-dependent wildlife and plants, recreation, and long-term natural resource planning.