Toward a Shared Understanding of Climate-Smart Restoration on America's National Forests
A rapidly changing climate, including rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and more extreme storms, is having profound consequences for America’s national forests. Climate-related impacts on forest systems include larger and more severe disturbances (e.g., wildfires, drought, insect outbreaks), shifts in tree species ranges and forest composition, and changes in forest dynamics and regeneration capacity. These impacts have significant implications for the effectiveness of conventional forest restoration efforts, such as reliance on historical conditions as the benchmark for restoration outcomes. The U.S. Forest Service has made considerable progress over the past decade in understanding the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems and identifying approaches for better incorporating climate adaptation and mitigation principles in its work. Nonetheless, varying perspectives on what climate change means for ecological restoration in practice continue to pose challenges in national forest planning and management. We carried out a review and synthesis of the science and developed a set of principles to help build a shared understanding of climate-informed and ecologically appropriate forest restoration. This work is intended to serve as a foundation for continued dialogue and collaboration among Forest Service managers and their partners in the federal, state, tribal, nonprofit, and private sectors to enhance the application of these approaches on the ground.