Landscape Change

Lessons from THR Landscape Scenarios

While landscape change is a natural part of ecosystem dynamics, the goal of forest management and conservation efforts is to make sure that forest ecosystems continue to provide biodiversity, natural resources, and other ecosystem services. Landscape modeling results from the Forest Scenarios project help us visualize and understand how the THR watershed might change in the future and allow us to compare the outcomes of four alternative conservation scenarios for landscape composition and configuration.

From these alternative landscape futures, we have learned several major lessons. First, one hundred years from now, the THR watershed becomes more spatially heterogeneous under all landscape scenarios. That is, forest and wetland land cover classes may be more unevenly distributed across the landscape in the future. This trend is visualized in the sliding map below that shows current land cover on the left and land cover 100 years from now under the current scenario.

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Second, management plays an important role in shaping the future of the THR watershed under changing conditions. Our modeling results show that composition and arrangement of the landscape differed more between alternative conservation scenarios than between alternative climate conditions under the same scenario (current climate versus increased probability of fire and windthrow). Further, statistical analyses show that management influences how climate change impacts affect the landscape. That is, management decisions will influence if and where the increased probability of fire and windthrow associated with climate change will impact the landscape.

Third, we must dig deeper to understand how and why our forests and wetlands may change in the future—broad-scale landscape patterns don't tell the whole story. While patterns may appear similar among scenarios, the changes in forests and wetlands that led to these patterns are very different between scenarios and have important implications for the adoption of particular conservation strategies.

Learn more about the outcomes of each scenario for forests and wetlands of the THR watershed by exploring the maps below.

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