"What Is ‘Assisted Migration’ And What Are The Risks?"

"As heat and drought continue to kill trees, humans are stepping in to help shift growing ranges. Not everyone agrees on what type of help is needed".

"East of Seattle, on the banks of Snoqualmie River, row upon row of one- to three-foot tall tree seedlings sit snug in plastic cages intended to protect this experiment in adapting to climate change from the hungry mouths of deer.

The young trees are located at the Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center, in Carnation, Wash. Once covered in invasive species, the Oxbow site has been ecologically restored using Pacific Northwest native plants, including eight tree species.

But while all the trees at the site are native to the region, some started their lives as seeds hundreds of miles away.

Shiny metal tags mark the trees’ natal homes. One reads “Coos,” short for Coos Bay, Ore., over 400 miles to the south. Another tag indicates a seed source in Oregon’s Willamette Valley south of Portland.

Both trees are native big leaf maples, trees that have been dying in large numbers throughout western Washington due in part to abnormally warm summer temperatures.

This is the problem Matt Distler, Oxbow’s conservation program manager, hopes to solve: how to use assisted migration to keep Pacific Northwest native trees on the landscape as climate change kills them off."

Nathan Gilles reports for Columbia Insight December 28, 2023.


Source: Columbia Insight, 01/02/2024