Northern forests growing, but beware
Posted: March 17, 2012
The press release from the Forest Service shows how the northern forests from Minnesota to West Virginia across to Maine covers 42% of the land area. This quite substantial given the population growth and urban and suburban development in the region. The report does a good job providing data on forests impact in the region including economic ones (441,000 jobs) and ecological ones (48% of water supply comes from forests).
But they do add that there are many threats to these forests such as invasive species including Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle that can and have had devastating impacts.
What the report doesn't highlight is the quality of the forests. The forests lie in a heavily fragmented landscape. For example, other than public forests, there are not many large areas on contiguous intact forests, critical for biodiversity and ecological functions, in Pennsylvania. Our heavily fragmented forest, belies the point that on the surface the forests look nice and green but beneath the surface one sees a forest under stress not only from invasive pests, but climate change, poor logging and lack of regeneration. This raises important questions about what our future forest will look like in 10-20 years.