Climate change and extreme weather threaten any thriving city, but according to a U.S. Forest Service study, certain places are taking it harder than others. National forests and woodland areas are a unique playhouse of life, plants and animals, acting as a home for endangered species, a live source of carbon sequestration, and a vital resource for communities when they need to clean up and replace closed spaces. When cities do not have sufficient physical plant on site to offset the 100 billion tons of carbon that come into the soil each year, this forest fires, or in many cases, just melts away.
During a press conference this week, the agency announced that they were targeting seven urban areas as the entry point for accelerating regenerative resiliency. They will train parks departments, sustainability advocates, and other local partners to incorporate climate adaptation strategies into everyday operations.
“The biggest lost areas are landscapes outside the front door of cities or towns,” Heather Little, director of Forest Service National Forests, told the press, “like small forests and small community and municipal areas … So that’s part of the reason we’re focusing on urban areas is we know that cities are going to see climate impacts. They can see climate change impacts every day in the form of high winds, some flooding, wildfires, extreme weather events, whether it be Hurricane Harvey or all these natural disasters we’re seeing.”
To keep these spaces intact, the survey will analyze how diverse local natural resources are, including native plants, bee communities, watersheds, and species. Next, the study will work to assist those in communities to make the appropriate assessments and environmental changes necessary to meet specific mitigation goals.
It is important to note that researchers involved in the study are mainly drawing upon 2015 data, when nearly 80 percent of cities in the survey were under at least a 5-year standard of 50 inches of rain per year. But the lack of prior baseline data could present interesting differences over time.
“Under the current climate that we’re experiencing, under the current rain and snow load, the coast (Southern California, Texas, the Phoenix basin) is definitely in for a lot of problems,” Little told reporters.
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