New Mapping Tool Predicts Future Conifer Declines After Wildfires in the Western United States

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The University of California Davis recently highlighted the new Post-fire Spatial Conifer Regeneration Prediction Tool (POSCRPT), a tool supported by the Southwest CASC that helps managers identify areas where conifer trees like pines and firs may be unable to regenerate after fires.

A wildfire burns through a dense thicket of scraggly pine trees.

Conifers are not well adapted to grow back after wildfires, like this one in the Sierra National Forest, California in 2018, and are predicted to decline in the coming years.

(Credit: Kari Greer, Forest Service, USDA. Public domain.)

Read the original article from UC Davis here.

Read Southwest CASC coverage here.

Forests across the country are struggling to recover from wildfire seasons made hotter and more severe by climate change. Conifers such as pine trees have a particularly hard time growing back after fires, leading to concerns that the sweeping pine and fir forests that characterize many parts of the American West may be greatly reduced. For forest managers developing post-fire recovery strategies, a new publication funded by the Southwest CASC introduces the Post-fire Spatial Conifer Regeneration Prediction Tool (POSCRPT). The mapping tool incorporates postfire climate information into a species-specific regeneration model to develop predictions about how well different conifer species might naturally regrow across the landscape, helping managers plan for possible changes to current species assemblages. The authors found that conifers are less likely to regenerate post-fire under dry conditions. This was especially true in dry climates, such as low elevation areas in California that have experienced recent droughts. These results highlight what postfire conditions might look like for forest management planning for future forest conditions.

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