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2014 course offerings that will apply toward a Climate Change Studies minor

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College of Forestry and Conservation

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How to Build Resilience?

By Joel Zoch, Wildlife Biology major, Climate Change Studies minor
Friday, August 19, 2011

Taking a walk through a forest without knowledge of forest ecology allows you to picture most forests as a perfectly normal ecosystem, or something you would have seen hundreds of years ago. In reality, most of the public lands in the west that are forested are in a non-natural state. This has been brought on by things like fire suppression and logging.

With Melanie’s prompt we consider, How would we manage these lands?Tom and Melanie Parker both have had years of experience with humans’ affects on forests and on how to help these forests back to a more natural state. Melanie will ask you to look around and think about what you think needs to be done to a forest. Looking around, are there dead and down trees as habitat for small animals? What might provide food for some of the bigger animals? Is the forest super thick and full of dead and down trees? Is it an overly thick ponderosa pine forest full of lodge pole pine and other shade tolerant trees?

Overly dense forests are a symptom of 100 years of fire suppression. Without thinning, if a fire was to burn through a forest like this the old growth fire resistant trees would most likely burn up also, scorching the land so badly that it would take years before any native species could take hold, and instead it would become home to many non-native species like knapweed. This is why restoration activities such as thinning and moving dead and down trees into areas without dead and down trees to provide habitat is easy and can really help a forest get back on the right track. So next time you’re in a forest ask yourself, what needs to be done to bring this back to a more a more natural and resilient state?