Projecting trends in ecosystem services across contrasting alternative futures for northeastern Minnesota: Quantifying fundamental uncertainty
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Gordon C. Reese, Kathleen M. Quigley and Brian R. Sturtevant, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, WI, Lynne M. Westphal, Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Evanston, IL, Jason Crabtree and Forrest D. Fleischman, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, David N. Bengston, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, St. Paul, MN, Jonathan R. Thompson and Joshua Plisinski, Harvard Forest, Harvard University, Petersham, MA
Gordon C. Reese
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Rhinelander, WI, USA
Background/Question/Methods Forests are responding to complex interactions between natural and anthropogenic factors, including changes to climate, land use, land cover, management practices, and disturbance sizes and frequencies. Therefore, making decisions now with the goal of maintaining ecosystem services and increasing system resilience in the future is particularly complicated, emphasizing a need for tools and methods to address uncertainties in how forests will respond to changing conditions. Our approach involves the integration of a mechanistic, forest-landscape model with land-use change models under contrasting future scenarios. The LANDIS-II forest-landscape model simulates stochastic processes at the level of stands, e.g. growth and succession, as well as landscapes, e.g. disturbance, harvesting, and seed dispersal, and can thereby be used to investigate and compare effects that result from alternative processes, such as from different disturbance regimes and management decisions. Our objectives included: 1) constructing and projecting models representing scenarios collaboratively developed by regional stakeholders as well as a “recent-trends” model and 2) comparing effects on various ecosystem services, for the combined St. Louis and Cloquet River watersheds in northeastern Minnesota, USA. Results/Conclusions Stakeholders indicated that the economy and climate change policy are two relatively impactful and uncertain system drivers, and later provided plausible pathways to four contrasting futures, i.e. the four combinations of financial security/insecurity and proactive/reactive climate change policy. Our results indicate that ecosystem services, including carbon storage and habitat quality, are responsive to modeled differences in disturbance rate and size, land-use/land-cover change, climate, and management strategies. Other results will show specific development and management decisions that can benefit ecosystem services. By integrating concepts and tools from scenario planning with land-use and landscape models, our results provide information with which to better understand essential interactions between human and ecological systems and to help guide decisions on how to attain preferred future outcomes with respect to landscape use and ecosystem services.