Foresters Using “Assisted Migration” to Help Forests Adapt More Quickly to Global Warming

(p. A14) Most trees can migrate only as fast as their seeds disperse — and if current warming trends hold, the climate this century will change 10 times faster than many tree species can move, according to one estimate.

. . .

So foresters in Rhode Island and elsewhere have launched ambitious experiments to test how people can help forests adapt, something that might take decades to occur naturally. One controversial idea, known as assisted migration, involves deliberately moving trees northward. But trees can live centuries, and environments are changing so fast in some places that species planted today may be ill-suited to conditions in 50 years, let alone 100. No one knows the best way to make forests more resilient to climatic upheaval.

. . .

It is also complicated. On Lake Michigan, one adaptation planner trying to help the Karner blue butterfly survive is considering creating an oak savanna well to the north, and moving the butterflies there. But the ideal place for the relocation already hosts another type of unique forest — one that he is trying to save to help a tiny yellow-bellied songbird that is also threatened by warming.

In other words, he may find himself both fighting climate change and embracing it, on the same piece of land.

For the full story, see:

Moises Velasquez-Manoff. “Can Humans Help Trees Outrun Climate Change?” The New York Times (Friday, April 26, 2019): A14-A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 25, 2019, and has the same title as the print version.)

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