Recovering from Disaster: After Natural Catastrophes, Forests and Communities Heal Together

By Madren, Carrie | American Forests, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Recovering from Disaster: After Natural Catastrophes, Forests and Communities Heal Together


Madren, Carrie, American Forests


WHEN A HURRICANE HITS THE COAST OR A TORNADO rips through the countryside, they create devastation - wrecking natural landscapes, as well as lives and livelihoods.

Hurricane Katrina affected five million acres of forest across Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama and caused more than $1.25 billion in timber damage in Mississippi alone. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami - triggered by a magnitude 9.2 oceanic earthquake - slammed coastlines across the western Pacific, killing hundreds of thousands of people and in some regions destroying everything aboveground, including mangrove forests. The lateral blast from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens instantly destroyed four billion board feet of timber, and nearly 200 homes were claimed during the disaster.

Across eastern North America, winds from tornadoes and downbursts (strong downdrafts that cause damaging winds) disturb thousands of forested acres each year, devastating both conservation areas and timberlands according to a 2000 study. Foresters managing for timber may lose decades' worth of tree growth and must scramble to salvage what's fallen before insects and diseases claim their product.

Such events also affect wildlife communities - in both good and bad ways. For instance, while damage by ice or tornadoes may create more clearings for food sources, like berry-producing shrubs, small mammals may have more difficulty foraging in thick, downed debris. Wildlife that live or feed in trees, such as bats and birds, can become displaced, throwing the ecosystem out of balance.

As communities struggle to pick up the pieces and mourn what's claimed by hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires and windstorms, forests, too, must rebuild and sink new roots to rise from the wreckage.

HIGH WATER

Rising floodwaters can take down forests from the roots.

After the Great Midwest Flood of 1993, which caused nearly $20 billion in damage and covered 400,000 square miles, nearly all the trees in four stands of Sanganois Wildlife Management Area near Beardstown, Ill., were submerged for more than six months and died.

Whether it's a river overflow or a coastal storm surge due to a hurricane, floodwaters can mean trouble for trees and forest ecosystems. First, floodwater currents, loaded with debris and silt, can. erode the soils around shrubs and trees, exposing roots.

In strong currents, debris may even strip bark from trees, uproot plants or strip shrubbery In addition to the initial physical impact, because many of a tree's fine, oxygen-absorbing roots grow in the upper six inches of soil, these roots can die off as the soil becomes waterlogged. Without a robust root system, trees don't absorb enough water and become weakened. As a result, foliage wilts or dies, and these weakened trees are a target for insects and disease.

Coastal flooding - often the result of a storm surge or hurricane - can cause significant damage by flooding freshwater areas with salt or brackish water. This saltwater intrusion can spell trouble for plants that rely on freshwater. Increased salts in the soil make it more difficult for tree roots to take up water because of changed osmotic pressure.

"The result is what's called physiological drought. Even though there is water, the tree can't take it up, and it's the same as if there was no water," explains U.S. Forest Service research ecologist John Stanturf of the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Athens, Ga. "Under severe conditions, an already-stressed tree, such as one that has lost its leaves by shearing in hurricane winds, can't recover and refoliate and may die outright."

A few years after the Great Midwest Flood, land managers noticed that new shrubs and seedlings began to thrive in the affected areas, though the types of trees differed from the older, established stands that were killed by the flood. Some tree species - such as silver maple, green ash, sweet gum and black willow - are thought to be more tolerant to flooded soils than other trees like black locust, black walnut, tulip poplar, sugar maple and American beech. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Recovering from Disaster: After Natural Catastrophes, Forests and Communities Heal Together
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.