Skip to main content

Goal: Apply Knowledge Globally Soil salinization: A salty problem for coastal forest management

Soil salinization threatens the productivity of coastal forests in parts of the southeastern U.S. The USDA Southeast Climate Hub developed a manual to help coastal landowners and technical service providers identify potential salinity issues on their forestland, mitigate impacts, adapt management practices, and, when possible, keep their land economically productive.

Cover of the Identification, Mitigation, and Adaptation to Salinization on Working Lands in the U.S. Southeast manual. USDA Forest Service image.

Sea-level rise is harming southeastern forests along the coast. Sea-level rise causes saltwater intrusion and soil salinization, which can kill plants that are not able to tolerate the salt. Elevated salinity levels also cause increases in salt-tolerant invasive species, and marsh migration. In addition, vegetation stressed by salinization is more susceptible to mortality by events such as droughts, hurricanes, and fires.

The USDA Southeast Climate Hub developed the manual Identification, Mitigation, and Adaptation to Salinization on Working Lands in the U.S. Southeast. The manual addresses critical knowledge gaps identified during a soil salinization workshop with subject matter experts in the region. The manual can help extension agents, landowners, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field staff, and private consultants determine the stage and severity of soil salinization on forest land. It also provides guidance on early harvest, conversion to conservation easement, and alternative, salt-tolerant crop considerations when forestry operations are no longer economically viable.


View the manual and supplementary materials at the Southeast Climate Hub website.

Principal Investigators
Steve McNulty, Hub Director, Research Ecologist
Michael Gavazzi, Hub Coordinator, Biological Scientist
RWU
4854 - Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Publications
Identification, mitigation, and adaptation to salinization on working lands in the U.S. Southeast
CompassLive Article
Coastal Forests Face Rising Sea Levels, Increased Salinity
Research Partners
David Hollinger - Northern Research Station
External Partners
Nancy Gibson - Leading Solutions LLC
Elijah Worley - Leading Solutions LLC
Chris Miller - USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Dan Keesee - USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service