Climate change is causing erratic weather events and altering ecosystems in the forests of Western North Carolina’s mountains. What these changes mean and the challenges they pose for managing the 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 mountainous region create uncertainties for its ecosystems, economy and lifestyle. Those seeking to protect the area’s natural health must navigate a challenging path through a shifting landscape.
Fraught Forests is a five-part in-depth series from Carolina Public Press, being published daily beginning May 23, 2022. The series was made possible through the support of readers like you. You can support nonpartisan in-depth and investigative journalism in North Carolina from our nonprofit newsroom by becoming a member today.
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Researchers seek to understand risks climate change poses for the Blue Ridge woodlands of Western NC, while many residents experience the disruption of extreme weather.
Tiny endangered droplets of high-elevation forest are home to one of richest areas of biodiversity in North America. Western NC conservation efforts seek to connect this archipelago of habitat islands with ecological bridges.
Climate change and extreme weather events disrupt habitat areas and food sources in NC mountain forests, while human infrastructure blocks natural migration paths and creates dangers near roadways for large animal species.
Maintaining trails in Western North Carolina’s mountain forests poses tough choices between recreation and sustainability.
Innovative approaches, from land restoration through private and public partnerships, plus revisiting tried approaches from herd grazing to indigenous land management techniques, offer partial answers to the challenges of changing climate in Western NC forests.
This series was produced by the news team of Carolina Public Press
Reporting by Jack Igelman
Photos by Colby Rabon and Jack Igelman
Illustration by Brittain Peck
Graphics by Anna Deen
Photo and Graphics Editing by Laura Lee
Project Editing by Frank Taylor