Dead Fir Trees: The enormous woods of Oregon have been suffering for years from the effects of climate change, drought, invading insects, and other things, but a new study suggests a growing problem.
Study Reveals That Dead Fir Trees Cover 1.1 Million Acres In Oregon
The Oregon Department of Forestry and the United States Forest Service collected data, and the non-profit environmental news outlet Columbia Insight was the first to publish the findings, which showed that 1.1 million acres of fir trees in Oregon had died off in 2022.
Christine Buhl, Forest Entomologist at ODF, told us “this study is really one of the longest-running in the nation of its sort.” We fly a survey over the whole wooded area of Oregon to collect information on pests, illnesses, and abiotic factors that are dying or harming the state’s trees.
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According to Buhl, there is rarely a single source that negatively affects forest health.
“Climate change,” she explained, “creating persistent heat dryness” is the main culprit in the death of these trees. And it’s not only the heat and dryness; long-lasting droughts are becoming increasingly common, and when they strike is crucial. When trees are just waking up for the season, they require a lot of water, yet it may be rather dry at that time of year.
The entomologist cited a variety of additional fundamental factors, such as root illnesses that weaken trees’ underlying support structures and the ongoing impact of the invasive Balsam Woolly Adelgid bug. Secondary agents, such as the fir engraver beetle, might hasten tree mortality after the trees have already been hampered by these main pathogens.
Entomologists have known about these issues for quite some time, but ODF has never before witnessed fir tree death on this scale.
According to Buhl, “I believe that in our experience of collecting data, we have never discovered 1 million acres of real fir mortality.” But there have been spikes in tree mortality across Oregon’s terrain caused by a number of different factors that are on par with the state’s worst wildfire seasons.
The heat dome of 2021 was described as unusual and potentially has long-lasting consequences on the forests of Oregon in the most recent analysis of forest health highlights in the state by the US Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Although it may be too late to completely undo the damage, Buhl suggests taking measures like thinning out diseased trees or planting tree species in their natural environment.
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In contrast, there is nothing that can be done on a global basis to combat climate change. When it comes to climate change, “we’re nearing the point where there’s not really much we can do to turn back,” Buhl said.
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