Managing Forests for Water: Challenges in the Anthropocene

Humans are enmeshed in an ancient and intricate relationship between forests and water, and as the impacts of climate change are felt across the globe, the relationship will become increasingly important.

A special issue of the journal Forests, titled Forest Management and Water Resources in the Anthropocene, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate change, and humans. The issue was developed and edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Ge Sun and Jim Vose, and covers topics such as soil moisture, wildfire, streamflow, land use, and modeling studies. The special issue includes an article Sun and Vose wrote on how emerging global threats interact with forest water resources and ecosystems.

“Decades of research has provided a depth of understanding on the relationships among forests and water,” says Vose. “However, the rapid changes in climate, disturbance regimes, invasive species, human population growth, and land use expected in the 21st century are likely to create substantial challenges for watershed management.”

The changes have been so swift and sweeping that a number of scientists agree that Earth has entered a new epoch, the Anthropocene. The proposed epoch is dominated by humans, and characterized by human impacts to the environment, including drastic increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide and subsequent changes in climate.

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