Photo: Tim Mowry/Alaska Division of Forestry
The Alaska Forest Action Plan addresses key issues that transcend programmatic boundaries and help focus limited program resources to conserve, protect and enhance Alaska’s forest resources. These include: maintaining capacity to control and mitigate risks of wildfire in the face of longer fire seasons and expanding wild land urban interface; maintaining and expanding sustainable output of forest products in the face of declining federal timber supply and expanding biomass energy demand; mitigating threats to forest health; maintaining and enhancing community benefits from forests; and maintaining and expanding the output of ecosystem services from Alaska forests. The above issues face ongoing challenges of maintaining public support for forest management, insufficient data and information, challenges in maintaining capacity for fire and resource management, and unique geographical, social and political challenges.
Conserving working forests for the economic well being of communities and Alaskans
Alaska is a resource-dependent state and the Division of Forestry strives to provide a sustainable output of forest products to meet the social and economic needs of Alaskans. In Southeast Alaska there is a pressing need for a reliable and dependable supply of timber to rebuild the economy of the region. Declining timber available from public lands and private lands dominated by immature second growth timber is putting severe economic strains on the region’s forest-dependent economy. In contrast, Southcentral and Interior Alaska have an underutilized allowable cut due to under developed markets and limited transportation and manufacturing infrastructure. Rising energy costs are increasing opportunities for woody biomass energy projects, which may serve to build the capacity and infrastructure to conserve working forests to benefit communities. Maintaining timber supply in Southeast Alaska and supporting sustainable biomass energy development statewide are key goals of Alaska’s forest resource strategy.
Reducing threats and impacts to forest health and mitigating risks resulting from wildfire
Communities and private landowners are key partners to effective forest management in Alaska. The catastrophic spruce bark beetle epidemic of the 1990s on Southcentral Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula illustrates the devastating potential of destructive pests to Alaska’s forests. Uncertainty resulting from a changing climate and the increase in vectors for invasive pest introduction illustrates the importance of early detection and rapid response strategies across multiple ownerships. Best management practices are key to maintaining the output of ecosystem services from managed Alaska forest lands on all ownerships. The Alaska strategy emphasizes partnerships with communities and private landowners in order to mitigate risks to forest health, ensure best management practices are deployed and to maintain ecosystem services.
Enhancing the sustainable output of forest products, community benefits and ecosystem services from trees and forests
In Alaska, changing climate patterns are resulting in longer fire seasons and increased fire intensity. Compounding the challenges associated with more frequent and larger fires is an expanding wild land urban interface putting more values at risk in the face of growing fire threats. The increased workload associated with these changes is exacerbated by escalating costs and uncertain State and Federal funding to maintain fire management capacity. Alaska’s forest resource strategy includes plans to address these challenges.
State of Alaska, DNR
Division of Forestry
3700 Airport Way
Fairbanks, AK 99709
John “Chris” Maisch, State Forester