Designing Forest Adaptation Experiments through Manager-Scientist Partnerships

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:20 AM
Linda Marie Nagel, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, United States, Christopher Swanston, USDA Forest Service, Houghton, MI, United States and Maria Janowiak, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, Houghton, MI, United States
Three common forest adaptation options discussed in the context of an uncertain future climate are: creating resistance, promoting resilience, and enabling forests to respond to change. Though there is consensus on the broad management goals addressed by each of these options, translating these concepts into management plans specific for individual forest types that vary in structure, composition, and function remains a challenge. We will describe a decision-making framework that we employed within a manager-scientist partnership to develop a suite of adaptation treatments for two contrasting forest types as part of a long-term forest management experiment. The first, in northern Minnesota, is a red pine-dominated forest with components of white pine, aspen, paper birch, and northern red oak, with a hazel understory. The second, in southwest Colorado, is a warm-dry mixed conifer forest dominated by ponderosa pine, white fir, and Douglas-fir, with scattered aspen and an understory of Gambel oak. The current conditions at both sites are characterized by overstocking with moderate-to-high fuel loading, vulnerability to numerous forest health threats, and are generally uncharacteristic of historic structure and composition. The desired future condition articulated by managers for each site included elements of historic structure and natural range of variability, but were greatly tempered by known vulnerabilities and projected changes to climate and disturbance patterns. The resultant range of treatments we developed are distinct for each forest type, and address a wide range of management objectives.