Friday, December 18, 2009

The Future of Forests

I was delighted when Emily Green asked me to interview Ronald Lanner for her website Chance of Rain. I adore his beautiful book "Conifers of California" (Cachuma Press). Of course, I proceeded to propose a really depressing topic: how global warming might effect California's forests. It wasn't a cheery conversation, but, if you care about trees and the animals that live amongst them, you should give it a look.

IS: Several studies have found animal species are shifting their ranges northward and upslope in response to warming. Are we seeing changes in conifer distribution?

RL: It’s hard to know for sure. Unless you do a controlled experiment over long period of time, you’ll not get definitive answer, but there are strong indications. At high elevation, where lodgepole pinegrows, it has, for a good number of years, been invading meadows. And mountain hemlock has also done that in the Sierra. It’s believed that ponderosa pinehas had an increasing mortality rate at its lower elevation and is tending to do best at higher elevations.

The discussion continues on Chance of Rain.

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