A road climbs into the Roan Highland of Mitchell County in early April. Jack Igelman / Carolina Public Press

Overview: Expert panel discusses NC forests and climate change

Event recording now available.

Climate change is hurting delicate Western North Carolina ecosystems

On June 7, Carolina Public Press held a free and open virtual event with a panel of experts to discuss threats to the future of public forests in the state. A recording of the event is available below.

Climate change is causing erratic weather events and altering ecosystems in Western North Carolina’s forests. As the new Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest land management plan for Western North Carolina is put into motion, pressures from climate change on public and private lands in the region create uncertainties for these areas and the businesses, communities and lifestyles that use and depend on them. Those seeking to protect the area’s natural health must navigate a challenging path through a shifting landscape.

A recent 5-part in-depth series by Carolina Public Press, “Fraught Forests,” explored what these changes mean and the challenges they pose for those who manage the these natural resources.

Cruso residents Steve and Jennifer Chaney sit for a portrait among debris left in the wake of 2021’s Tropical Storm Fred along the Pigeon River in Cruso on April 19, 2022. Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

Panelists share experiences, solutions

The panel featured Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor; reporter Jack Igelman; Marquette Crockett, Roan stewardship director with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy; David Easterling, chief, Climate Assessments Section, director NCA Technical Support Unit at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Lang Hornthal, co-executive director for the nonprofit group Ecoforesters, an Asheville-based forestry organization; and Lisa Jennings, U.S. Forest Service, recreation manager at the Grandfather Ranger District. The panel discussed and answered participant questions about how intense pressures on mountain ecosystems are disrupting plant and animal species and what communities within, and outside, the forests can do to help.

View the event recording below.

YouTube video

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