The Penobscot Experimental Forest (PEF) is located in the towns of Bradley and Eddington in east-central Maine, about 10 miles north of the city of Bangor. This approximately 3,900-acre experimental forest was established in 1950 as a site for long-term U.S. Forest Service research. Though there are 22 experimental forests in the Northern Research Station and 80 nationwide, the PEF is the only one in the transitional zone between the eastern broadleaf and boreal forests known as the Acadian Region. The PEF thus serves as an important and unique source of information about the ecology and silviculture of mixed-species northern conifers.
Research on the PEF is critical to forest managers and policy makers throughout the region. Though initially established to study the production potential of a range of silvicultural practices, the research program on the PEF has expanded over time to include investigations of numerous aspects of ecosystem structure and function, including tree and understory vegetation composition, leaf area and photosynthesis, genetic diversity, wildlife – habitat relationships, nutrient cycling, and carbon storage. Today, Forest Service scientists, university partners, and other cooperators maintain long-term silvicultural experiments and conduct short-term observational and manipulative studies to better understand the mechanisms of ecosystem change over time.