Large‐scale forest restoration stabilizes carbon under climate change in Southwest United States

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Higher tree density, more fuels, and a warmer, drier climate have caused an increase in the frequency, size, and severity of wildfires in western U.S. forests. There is an urgent need to restore forests across the western United States. To address this need, the U.S. Forest Service began the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) to restore four national forests in Arizona. The objective of this study was to evaluate how restoration of ~400,000 ha under the 4FRI program and projected climate change would influence carbon dynamics and wildfire severity from 2010 to 2099. Specifically, we estimated forest carbon fluxes, carbon pools and wildfire severity under a moderate and fast 4FRI implementation schedule and compared those to status quo and no‐harvest scenarios using the LANDIS‐II simulation model and climate change projections.

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