By Published On: January 3, 2023

Moving Toward Climate-Resilient Management of Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands

As climate change increasingly shapes western ecosystems—with events from frequent and severe wildfires to enduring droughts—managers need evidence-based approaches they can rely on to strengthen ecosystem climate resilience into the future. 

Pinyon-juniper woodlands are ubiquitous across the Intermountain West. Concern has arisen among researchers and managers about their vulnerability to a warming and drying climate. 

Although substantial conservation efforts have successfully removed conifer species expanding into sagebrush ecosystems and improved habitat for sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate species, relatively little conservation effort has focused on persistent woodlands and their inhabitants like the pinyon jay. 

Pinyon-juniper woodlands face threats like drought, wildfire, and insect outbreaks that are made worse by climate change. Managers have indicated that they often lack the information needed to guide climate-smart management in woodland ecosystems. 

The Intermountain West Joint Venture worked with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a new report titled “New Approaches are Needed for Climate-Resilient Management of Semi-Arid Woodlands in the West” to elevate the importance of this iconic western ecosystem. The report provides a brief synthesis of the current state of science relating to threats to this system and highlights new efforts to develop management strategies focusing on woodland health and climate resilience.