The Future of the Northern Forests: Climate Change Impacts and Forest Management

Expanding forest reserves such as those found along river corridors may provide refuge to threatened species. Photo courtesy of Matthew Duveneck.

Expanding forest reserves such as those found along river corridors may provide refuge to threatened species. Photo courtesy of Matthew Duveneck.

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.

Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC

The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC envisions a conservation community that while governed by their unique purposes and missions, collaborates on sustaining lands and waters that support natural and cultural resources and the services they provide. Our mission is to support and sustain this conservation community by facilitating communication, coordination and collaboration to bridge cutting-edge scientific research with natural resources management.
 

Contact Us

Ashley Spratt Communications Coordinator ashley_spratt@fws.gov 573-234-2132 ext. 104
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