Land ownership and 20th century changes to forest structure in California

Forests in California have changed dramatically during the 20th century. Shifts in forest structure including densification, declines in large trees and tree basal area have altered the function, productivity, and resilience of modern day forests. Attributing these changes to specific drivers is increasingly important for effective management of healthy and productive forests. Previous studies focus on climatic (temperature, precipitation, climatic water deficit), disturbance (fire), geomorphological (topography, soil types), and anthropogenic (logging, fire suppression) drivers, but few studies evaluate large scale change in forest structure across land ownership type. In this paper, we investigate 20th century changes to forest structure across six land ownership classes in California. We compare historical and contemporary forest structural data and find that declines in large trees and increases in forest density are consistent across the state.

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