Historical and anticipated changes in forest ecosystems of the inland west of the united states

Wallace W Covington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Euro-American settlement of the Inland Westhas altered forest and woodland landscapes, species composition, disturbance regimes, and resource conditions. Public concern over the loss of selected species and unique habitats (e.g., old-growth) has caused us toneglect the more pervasive problem of declining ecosystem health. Population explosions of trees, exotic weed species, insects, diseases, and humans are stressing natural systems. In particular, fire exclusion, grazing, and timber harvest have created anomalous ecosystem structures, landscape patterns, and disturbance regimes that are not consistent with the evolutionary history of the indigenous biota. Continuation of historical trends of climate change, modified atmospheric chemistry, tree density increases, and catastrophic disturbances seems certain. However, ecosystem management strategies including the initiation of management experiments can facilitate the adaptation of both social and ecological systems to these anticipated changes. A fairly narrow window of opportunity-perhaps 15-30 years-exists for land managers to implement ecological restoration treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-63
Number of pages51
JournalJournal of Sustainable Forestry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 18 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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