Nebraska’s Forest Action Plan represents the Nebraska Forest Service’s first geospatial assessment of the state’s tree and forest resources, in addition to providing unique insights and identifying strategic goals and opportunities for sustainably managing these resources.
Developing and strengthening partnerships across all lands and orienting existing resources and assets to maximize impacts
Reducing forest fuel loads, mitigating damage caused by current forest health threats and preparing for the arrival of emerging threats
Enhancing public benefits from trees and forests by conserving working forest landscapes
In Nebraska, forests are threatened by a variety of insect and disease pests. During the 20th century, the state’s American elm and American chestnut populations were devastated by Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight, respectively. Current and emerging insect and disease threats, such as pine wilt, emerald ash borer, mountain pine beetle, thousand cankers disease, sudden oak death and Asian longhorned beetle all have the potential to have serious, lasting impacts on Nebraska’s tree and forest resources.
The public’s valuation of trees and forests plays a key role in sustaining the tangible and intangible benefits they provide. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for the public to understand the extent of their value. For example, in rural areas, increasing crop prices and drought negatively impact perception of the value of forest resources. This is because as crop prices increase, conservation plantings (e.g., windbreaks and riparian buffers) are often removed to increase acres in crop production. Meanwhile, in more urban communities, the number of trees in public spaces has declined over the past three decades. Some communities have lost more than 40% of their public trees, Replanting efforts are not currently sufficient to offset mortality and removals, resulting in further declines of community forest canopy cover.
Catastrophic wildland fire is perhaps the greatest threat to Nebraska’s coniferous forest ecosystems and is an emerging threat in several areas of riparian forests as well. Several trends combine to aggregate the already severe conditions. Increasing forest fuel loads, increasing extent of invasive and aggressive native plant species, expansion of housing into wildland forest areas, increasing temperatures, drier conditions and longer fire seasons all will combine to increase the risk of catastrophic wildland fire.