To know western forests is to understand the outsized role played by quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) communities. As ecologists, we understand the natural bounty of aspen systems, but it is important to fully appreciate the value of these forests to society at-large. This presentation will look at values to people and ecosystems in the context of an evolving science and conservation of aspen. We will review basic ecology, research developments, and adaptive monitoring in contemporary forest stewardship. There are many threats to sustainable aspen forests, including past management, herbivory of wild and domestic ungulates, recreation and development, a changing climate, and lack of coordination at ownership/boundary lines. A key tenant across natural resource fields today is multi-species management; in other words, putting “systems thinking” to work. The Western Aspen Alliance (WAA) advocates monitoring and collaboration as central practices for effective management in aspen communities. Cross –agency, -boundary, and –discipline work will govern the future of sustainable aspen ecosystems. At the global scale, we will briefly discuss how aspen practices discussed here are being shared around the world under the “mega-conservation” banner. In sum, the WAA encourages conservation practitioners to take advantage of this service through participation, sound practice, and feedback.
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