I originally wrote the posting below in April 2014 to promote the Climate Resilience App Challenge to the Esri forestry community. While this app challenge has now ended, Esri currently has another exciting app challenge underway, called the Global Disaster Resilience App Challenge. The text below still applies - forest management is critical to reducing the impact of global disasters - I hope you all participate in this new app challenge!
Climate Resilience is important to forestry because forests play a decisive role in stabilizing the earth’s climate. Trees are often referred to as the “lungs of the planet” because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Unique among all possible climate change solutions, trees alter the environment in which we live by improving air quality, controlling storm water, lowering temperature, stabilizing soil, reducing wind speed and direction, providing clean water, sequestering carbon, providing timber, harboring wildlife and much more. It is beyond argument that forest management is one of the most cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously providing essential environmental, social and economic benefits.
While forests are indeed a major part of the climate change solution, forests are also shaped by climate. Forests are sensitive to many effects of climate change, including shifting weather patterns, drought, wildfires, and the spread of forest pests and invasive species. This means that changes in temperature and precipitation are dramatically affecting America’s forests and we are experiencing a significant decline in forest health. The decline in forest health is resulting in a diminished capacity of our forests to absorb carbon.
Foresters and land owners need applications that help them better manage their forest lands to modify wildfire behavior; apps that calculate the effects of our declining forest health; tools that can be used by ordinary citizens to monitor street trees and urban forests; apps that keep forests as a forest; solutions to predict the migration of tree species; apps to evaluate and recommend forest management options; and much more.
You should apply for the Esri Climate Resilience App Challenge 2014 because tools are needed to help forest managers maintain the health of our trees in both urban and wilderness settings. Since a forest is a dynamic natural system that is constantly changing, America’s forests and urban trees need to be sustainably managed to obtain maximum benefit and protect them from the effects of climate change. Mismanagement or neglect is an economic waste and considered to be a looming environmental and social catastrophe. Your app is needed to help forest managers and urban foresters ensure full stocking, maintain forest health, minimize soil disturbance, and reduce losses due to tree mortality, wildfires, insect, and disease.
Developers participating in the climate change app challenge can truly make a difference in helping America’s forests thrive.