Changes In Forests Increase Fire Risks, Insect Outbreaks

Aug 7, 2012

The Pacific Northwest’s inland forests have dramatically changed over the past 100 years. That’s according to a new study by a conservation group. These changes can lead to larger fires and insect outbreaks.

The report was released by The Nature Conservancy. It examines forests in central and eastern Washington. Researchers found that grazing, fire suppression and pest management have changed the way forests grow.

These efforts to prevent forest problems have made it more likely for large fires and insect outbreaks to cause damage. That’s because management techniques have made forests more dense and less resilient.

Ryan Haugo is a forest ecologist with The Nature Conservancy. He says 73 percent of the forests studied are unhealthy.

Haugo: “The risks that these forests face are increasing each year, as you go along. It’s something that we need to get a handle on now.”

Haugo says the report will set the stage for the next step: long-term restoration.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio