Scattered trees: a complementary strategy for facilitating adaptive responses to climate change in modified landscapes?

Adrian D. Manning, Philip Gibbons, David B. Lindenmayer. Journal of Applied Ecology Volume 46, Issue 4, pages 915–919, August 2009

Manning, et al. present a short argument for focusing on establishing and maintaining scattered trees throughout the landscape as a strategy for coping with climate change. This is in contrast to a more patch-based focus on reserves, though they do recognize that other strategies will have to be used simultaneously. The authors at one point suggest that managing for tree densities that surpass historic highs can be as bad as managing for lower than normal densities, but in general the article simply argues: more trees.

Scattered trees throughout a landscape will provide conservation of soil nutrients, greater ecological connectivity (including between grassland and forest habitats), and can act as focal points for future seed dispersal when surrounding lands become abandoned. By blurring habitat boundaries and creating habitat heterogeneity, they will help allow species to move more seamlessly when range shifts occur due to climate change.

Suggestions for implementation seemed to focus on incentives for farmers to incorporate scattered trees into their agricultural systems, and several possible methods were given. But the power of this article was not in the details. Given the nature of some of our discussions, it was refreshing to read a piece on such an unchallenging, broad and simple idea that could have huge consequences if implemented smartly. This would not be an easy task, but it is very much worth exploring, especially on the policy side of things.

For another interesting read about what climate adaptation strategies are being used today, I'll point you to an article I critiqued earlier in the semester:

Rethinking Conservation Practice in Light of Climate Change; Peter W. Dunwiddie, Sonia A. Hall, et al.; September 2009; Ecological Restoration 27:3

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