Northern Forest Futures Project

Projecting Future Conditions: What will forests be like in the future?

[image:] Two people looking into a crystal ball to predict future forest conditions.

The future condition of northern forests will depend on many variables.  It is impossible to consider every possible future, and so NFFP efforts focus on developing projections from a set of possible future scenarios. Projecting future forest composition and structure under a range of scenarios provides a better basis for judging whether management plans are reasonable and sustainable.

Key Findings

  • Forest area is projected to decrease between 3.5 and 6.4 percent with losses concentrated around existing urban and suburban areas.
  • Projected forest removals resulting from land-use changes are likely to average about 13 percent of total removals, with the remainder resulting from harvesting; in some populous Eastern States, removals resulting from land-use changes could exceed 50 percent of all removals.
  • By 2050, urban land is expected to increase to about 8 percent in the conterminous United States and to 14 percent in the North.

Projection Methods

One purpose of the Northern Forest Futures Project is to predict change in future forest attributes across the 20 States in the U.S. North for the period that extends from 2010 to 2060. There are six scenarios, each representing a global greenhouse storyline (IPCC 2007) paired with a harvest regime:

  • A1B:  high economic growth, moderate population growth
  • A2:  moderate economic growth, high population growth
  • B2:  low economic growth, low population growth

Harvest Regimees

  • -C: Scenario projections assume harvest will continue at recently observed levels
  • -BIO: Harvest will increase to reflect increased harvest for bioenergy production

Future Conditions Data

In addition to the Criteria and Indicators, you can view a variety of statistics.

View the Future Conditions by State

map of the twenty northeastern states Minnesota Connecticut Illinois Indiana Iowa Missouri New Hampshire Ohio Pennsylvania Rhode Island Vermont West Virginia Massachusetts Massachusetts New York Michigan Wisconsin New York Massachusetts Maine New Jersey Delaware Maryland