Most of the land in the Point No Point Treaty area is blanketed by coniferous forests. These forests historically have been a vitally important source of building material, traditional foods, medicines, and clothing. Western red cedar is particularly important, providing planks for traditional longhouses, bark for clothing and baskets, and wood for tools, musical instruments, totem poles and other cultural artifacts. The diverse and abundant wildlife found in these forests also provide a wealth of raw materials used in S’Klallam culture. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and alleviate some of the impacts of climate change. Most important, forests regulate water flow, thus protecting important salmon streams against floods and drought.
Warming temperatures are expected to significantly alter the distribution and composition of forests in the future. The geographic ranges of some tree species will expand to higher elevations, but not enough is known yet to predict future composition of vegetation. Increased temperatures and drought frequency will lead to more frequent and larger fires. Frequency and severity of insect outbreaks are expected to occur as rising temperatures allow insect ranges to expand and decreased soil moisture makes trees more vulnerable to insect outbreaks. Trees that are resistant to fire and insects, and trees that can quickly regenerate after large-scale disturbances will likely become more abundant. Western red cedar, Pacific yew, western hemlock and many understory plants typically don’t regenerate rapidly following disturbance, and will likely become less abundant.
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