Developing Adaptive Silvicultural Strategies in the Context of Climate Change

This Forest Stewards Guild webinar featured the presentation "Developing Adaptive Silvicultural Strategies in the Context of Climate Change" by Dr. Linda Nagel of Michigan Technological University.  The Forest Stewards Guild website contains a recording of the webinar, and the presentation slides are available below.


Climate change is a pervasive driver of ecosystem change and uncertainty regarding future conditions, and represents a significant threat to many critical ecosystem functions. The uncertain nature of climate change adds an additional dimension to developing sustainable management plans, including the development of silviculture prescriptions. Forest managers need conceptual tools to incorporate adaptation into management approaches. This process begins with reframing objectives and the notion of desired future conditions, which can be especially important where restoration treatments are a priority. Decision-making processes built on principles of adaptive management can help managers assess potential climate-related challenges to their goals and objectives, evaluate the feasibility of existing objectives in the context of climate change, diagnose the need for climate change adaptation efforts, prescribe appropriate treatments, and use monitoring efforts to evaluate treatment effectiveness and gauge the need to adjust management over time. A common emerging adaptation theme is to manage ecosystems for resistance and resilience, which can often be achieved by maintaining and enhancing complexity.

A case study using northern hardwoods of the Great Lakes region, an extensive and economically important forest type that has undergone significant change and homogenization as a result of past land-use, will be discussed in the context of these tools. Additionally, an adaptive silviculture project will be highlighted that is building science-management partnerships to guide managers through the process of developing site-specific, objectives-driven climate change adaptation treatments. This project will simultaneously establish a framework for a long-term study of responses to several common climate change adaptation options in a variety of forest types across the United States.