How will forests change as the climate warms? Is biodiversity an important component for forest management? What options are available for resource managers to assist in management decisions?
These are some of the questions that Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC grantees from Portland State University set out to answer. Their research has made a substantial contribution to both the science of climate change effects and the management of northern Great Lakes forests.
Using a forest simulation model to assess climate change and management effects in Minnesota and Michigan, the researchers explored a range of carbon emission scenarios, examining how climate change might affect the relationship between diversity and forest productivity. At the same time, the researchers examined a variety of management options under potential climate change scenarios.
Although the high emission climate change scenario largely outweighed management effects, researchers found positive effects to climate-adapted management approaches. For example, expanding forest reserves increased at-risk tree species such as balsam fir while planting climate suitable species increased productivity and diversity under climate change.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recently began a new initiative using these research recommendations in portions of northern Minnesota. Species expected to respond well to a changing climate were planted.
Mark White from TNC notes that, “Linking insights from simulation models into on-the-ground planning decisions is essential to successful conservation.”
To learn more about TNC’s climate-informed forestry practices in Minnesota’s northwoods visit: Case Study: The Nature Conservancy: Forestry Adaptation in Minnesota’s Northwoods
More information on this project may be found in the recently published ESA Ecosphere Journal article.