Less carbon sequestered

Maybe it will help if we rake the forest floors?

The CBC reports a forestry professor has found that:

certain tree species are having a tough time growing back in areas that have been affected by wildfires due to warming temperatures — a discovery that could have major implications for both the forestry sector and long-term climate change targets.

Among Stevens-Rumann,’s work was a 2017 study of nearly 1,500 sites charred by 52 wildfires in the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Her research found that lower elevation trees had a tough time naturally regenerating in areas that burned between 2000 and 2015 compared with sites affected between 1985 and 1999, largely due to drier weather conditions.

More recently, a 2019 study written by her colleague Kerry Kemp found that both Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine seedlings in the Idaho’s Rocky Mountains — just south of B.C. — were also struggling in low-lying burned areas due to warmer temperatures, leading to lower tree densities.

One thing trees do is capture CO2, so if they’re not coming back well from fires, that’s one more item in the cascade.

In some places what was forest may become grasslands.

The concerns were echoed by University of British Columbia forestry professor and associate dean Sally Aitken, who co-authored a study that mapped out how landscapes in B.C. are changing in the face of changing climate.

Aitken said many areas in the province that were burned during the record-breaking 2017-2018 wildfire seasons were also recovering from previous wildfires.

When juvenile or seedlings burn before they’re mature enough to drop seeds, forest may experience what’s known as seed source shortfall.

Result: again, more forest lost to grassland.

While some areas at higher elevations are experiencing regrowth, both Aitken and Stevens-Rumann say some ecosystems will no longer be able to support tree species that have historically stood tall over the landscape.

With more grasslands dispersed through the province, the forests’ ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere is hampered, they said.

No mention of raking.

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