Landscape Change

Lessons from WRLF Landscape Scenarios

Each scenario simulated change over 100 years. We found three possible outcomes in comparing the scenario results. See the descriptions and maps below for more information on these outcomes. This analysis is ongoing, so please check back in the future for updates!

First, scenario results indicate that this landscape may become increasingly heterogeneous over time under all three scenarios. Outcomes for all scenarios are relatively similar when projected 100 years into the future. This may be due to the small change in management between scenarios and the similar styles of management defined by the different experts involved in the scenario development workshop. Northern hardwood and similar forest types are usually harvested through uneven aged management, meaning that individual trees within a stand are selectively cut while the growth of other trees is not affected. Little even aged management, or clear cutting, happens in this landscape. To explore this further, we analyzed the impact of differences between scenarios by choosing a smaller study area around the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest. While this secondary analysis showed slightly increased differences between scenarios, similar trends between all scenarios remained. These results indicate that the differences between scenarios were not large enough to overcome the trajectory of increasing spatial heterogeneity and diversity in stand age in forests and wetlands in this landscape. This increased diversity may be exaggerated as a result of the modeling process. The trend of scenarios becoming increasingly heterogeneous can be visualized through the following story map, which shows the Current Management scenario under current climate conditions at year 0 and year 100.

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Second, the effect of climate change impacts depends on the amount and arrangement of management across the landscape. When comparing the scenarios under the current climate conditions to those simulated with the climate change impacts of increased windthrow and fire events, we found that the outcomes of the Current Management scenario for land cover do not change. These results indicate that management plays a larger role in determining the composition and configuration of this landscape than the possible climate disturbances modeled here. However, when looking at the comparison of the other two scenarios, we found that increased fire and windthrow were much larger drivers of landscape change than was the difference in management scenarios. While land cover was least heterogeneous in these two scenarios under current climate conditions, the landscape was the most spatially heterogeneous in these two scenarios when modeled with climate change impacts.

Third, looking at the landscape level analysis does not tell the whole story. To understand the differences between the scenarios, it is necessary to look examine changes in land cover classes throughout the simulation. The following story map describes the finer details of this analysis, looking within the landscape at differences and drivers of landscape change.

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