Forest Climate Adaptation Needs Assessment

Written by Amanda Mahaffey
As we grow our knowledge about climate change impacts, forest stewards increasingly seek resources for adapting forests to these changes. The Forest Stewards Guild (FSG) and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) listened to forest managers across New England to assess the current information and tools needed to ensure our forests’ resiliency. This effort was led by Guild members Maria Janowiak (NIACS), Amanda Mahaffey (FSG), and Christopher Riely (Sweet Birch Consulting, LLC).¬†Results of the work are published in a new report, Moving the Needle: A Review of Needs to Increase Climate Adaptation in the Forests of New England.¬†
We heard a range of nuanced questions on climate impacts to tree species dynamics, wildlife, forest hydrology, invasives, and human communities. We also heard about barriers to adaptation, the greatest of which is the overwhelming uncertainty about what the future may bring. From listening to the community of practice, we synthesized some key steps for “moving the needle” forward on forest climate adaptation:
  1. Manage in the face of uncertainty
  2. Expand information resources to inform decisions
  3. Prioritize risks and management actions
  4. Address barriers to sustainable forest management
  5. Learn from each other through communities of practice

Providence Water – Watershed crew planting seedlings

While this report was being developed, the authors were also busy working with partners to take some of those action steps. Here are ways you can be involved and benefit:

  1. Forest Adaptation Webinar Series. Sign up for webinar presentations pairing forest managers with scientists on a range of forest climate adaptation topics!
  2. Maine FCCI Forum February 12. The Forest Stewards Guild is partnering with the University of Maine’s Forest Climate Change Initiative to offer a one-day forum highlighting the priority needs of researchers, foresters, and other natural resource professionals.
  3. Southern New England workgroup. An energetic collaboration of natural resource professionals is networking to share information, communication resources, and other regional tools to help advance forest climate adaptation in southern New England. Contact Guild member John Scanlon for more information. john.scanlon@state.ma.us
  4. Vermont EAB forums. Numerous partners in Vermont offered a series of educational forums on managing ash in the context of the emerald ash borer, or EAB. Contact Keith Thompson Keith.Thompson@vermont.gov or Pieter Van Loon Pieter@vlt.org for more information.
  5. Oak resiliency. The Forest Stewards Guild is partnering with Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut on a USDA Forest Service-funded project on increasing resiliency in southern New England’s oak forests. Contact Christopher Riely christopher@sweetbirchconsulting.com for more information.
Together, these activities strengthen the community of practice and help us collectively move the needle on forest climate adaptation in New England.