How Some Forests Are Surprisingly Resistant to Climate Change

June 19, 2019 by Hristina Byrnes

Old forests, dating back a century or more, can be magnificent to look at, but there’s more to them than just their majesty and beauty: They also seem to be unexpectedly resistant to some of the harmful effects of climate change — significantly more so than younger forests.

According to a study appearing in a recent edition of the journal Global Change Biology, the older a forest is, the less vulnerable it becomes to climate-related factors affecting carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity.

Researchers from the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources analyzed extensive field data from 18,507 forest plots across the eastern United States and Canada in an attempt to determine how changing temperatures and precipitation levels would impact them. (Their efforts are a reminder that, at least for the time being, the U.S. is among the countries doing the most to protect the environment.)

It is generally agreed that forests in general are indeed affected by climate change, through such factors as reduced productivity, species redistribution, and the spread of invasive species — all of which would have significant effects on the environment.

According to Dominik Thom, lead author of the UVM study, as reported by VTDigger, a Vermont-wide news and watchdog website, what the data analysis revealed was that “as forests age, their capacity to store carbon, produce timber, and provide habitat for a range of species increases.” The older a forest is, the more resistant those functions are to climate change. Still, the phenomenon affects many other areas and aspects of life. These are the 27 effects of climate change that can’t be stopped.