Research Review

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Helping Great Lakes Pine Forests Adapt to an Uncertain Future

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The iconic Great Lakes pine forests of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and upper Michigan are now greatly simplified in composition and structure compared to their historical equivalents from before the extensive logging and fires that started in the mid to late 1800s. Forests that had been composed of mixtures of red pine, eastern white pine, jack pine, and many hardwood species are now dominated by red pine alone or have been converted to aspen or oak. Many of these contemporary forests have simplified age structures, with trees that are mostly a single age; many of these forests are plantations.

Increasingly, organizations and agencies are interested in restoring these forests using a natural models approach, which involves management based on understanding how forests develop naturally, without much human interference. However, in this era of concern about the effects of climate change, invasive species, and changing markets for timber, among other things, the natural models approach cannot simply mean a return to past conditions. Quite simply, we can’t go back; red pine shoot blight, fire suppression, and deer over-population have been let out of Pandora`s box. Both managers and forests must adjust to contemporary and also to anticipated future conditions and needs.

View the January 2015 Research Review (2.4 MB PDF)

For more information contact

Jane Hodgins
Public Affairs Specialist
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
1992 Folwell Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


Last modified: January 15, 2015