- To provide information, methods, and guidelines to implement and evaluate ecosystem management concepts, practices, and effects on water, soil and forest resources.
- To improve knowledge, baseline data, and predictive methods that are required to evaluate effects of the atmospheric environment on forested watersheds in the southeastern U.S.
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“Soils are the foundation of everything in terms of growth and productivity,” says USDA Forest Service researcher Jennifer Knoepp. Knoepp explains that “soils have integrated all the conditions that have resulted from the growth of an ecosystem” and thus reflect the past and present vegetation, climate, and biology. This profound interaction between soils and life is why scientists study soils in the context of forests.
An estimated 35 percent of the global terrestrial carbon is stored in soil and biotic carbon pools, such as forests. These pools can store or release carbon. Because forests store immense amounts of carbon, forest management is becoming part of efforts to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
The Southeast hosts an impressive network of forested wetlands. These wetlands improve water quality, reduce flooding, store excess carbon, and provide important habitat for wildlife. They are also particularly vulnerable to changes in climate and land use.