Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change

Research Issue

Red pine forest monitored as part of climate adaptation research in Northern Minnesota. Photo by Brian Palik, US Forest Service.What approach best prepares forest ecosystems for climate change? For forest managers throughout the Nation, the question isn’t about how to manage forests in the future but rather what can they be doing today to adapt forests to observed changes in habitat suitability of tree species.

To answer that question, Forest Service scientists are partnering with universities and other federal agencies in “Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change” (ASCC) to conduct on-the-ground, science-manager collaborative research to demonstrate what adaptation measures or tactics might be effective in preparing forest ecosystems to deal with climate change (Nagel et al 2017).

ASCC is providing a multi-region network of replicated operational-scale research sites testing ecosystem-specific climate change adaptation treatments. The partnership includes introducing conceptual tools and processes to integrate climate change considerations into management.

Our Research

In Northern Minnesota, the 3,000-acre Cutfoot Experimental Forest is the first of five  research sites associated with the ASCC partnership. Brian Palik, MN-ASCC project lead, and a team of natural resource specialists and researchers developed a set of desired future conditions, objectives, and tactics for the Cutfoot Experimental Forest based on three climate adaptation approaches:

  • Resistance: Maintain relatively unchanged conditions over time
  • Resilience: Allow some change in current conditions, but encourage an eventual return to reference conditions
  • Transition: Actively facilitate change to encourage adaptive responses to changing and new conditions

More than 275,000 seedlings of species projected to be future climate adapted have been planted in the ASCC project on the Cutfoot Experimental Forest, part of the Chippewa National Forest in Northern Minnesota. Project participants will continue tending and monitoring the Cutfoot Experimental Forest project site for many years, including vegetation control around planted seedlings and deer browse protection on pine seedlings. Variables of interest include trees, understory vegetation, birds, diseases, and microclimate. Team members are using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) to model forest growth and tree survival for treatments and climate change scenarios.

Expected Outcomes

Treatments and findings from this study are part of an active network of long-term silviculture research, and create a model experimental design for research on forest adaptation to climate change.

Research Results

Nagel, L. M.; Palik, B. J.; Battaglia, M. A.; D’Amato, A. W.; Guldin, J. M.; Swanston, C. W.; Janowiak, M. K.; Powers, M. P.; Joyce, L. A.; Millar, C. I.; Peterson, D. L.   2017.  Adaptive silviculture for climate change: a national experiment in manager-scientist partnerships to apply an adaptation framework. Journal of Forestry 115: 167-178.

Cutfoot ASCC Research Participants

Research Partners

  • Last modified: November 8, 2017