Managing Forests With Climate Change in Mind

Oct 7, 2021 4:00 PM ET

Managing Forests with Climate Change in Mind

When Chris Martland analyzes a landowner’s forest to develop a management plan, he has a number of issues to consider—the landowner’s goals, what’s best for long-term forest health, how he can improve biodiversity and wildlife habitat, market conditions, and climate change.

Chris is the manager of Sappi’s private Lake States Forestry program. He helps timber owners in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan manage their forests.

He recently took a course, Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change, through the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS). The NIACS program has been designed as a collaborative effort among the US Forest Service, universities, conservation organizations, and the forest industry to provide information on managing forests for climate change adaptation and enhanced carbon sequestration. Chris was the first participant from the industry side.

Chris says that he took the course because climate change is one of the hot topics in forestry, and there’s increased concern regarding climate change from landowners and concerned stakeholders:

"The biggest takeaway for me was that as a forester we need to start and understand what this forest might look like in 100 years. Because of climate change, are we going to see major or minor changes to the surrounding environment? All research points to change, which I believe. But I don’t think that it’s going to be the worst-case scenario that some models predict. Many of our species are going to be able to adjust to the changing climate. Some have more immediate threats. Our ash stands will likely be hurt more by the emerald ash borer rather than a changing climate, although climate change may allow the insects to spread more quickly. Sustainability is the key. Forestry is a long game. We have to stay informed and learn all we can so we can use our best judgment to overcome the hurdles that we need to get over to succeed.” 

Read more from Sappi North America's 2020 Sustainability Report here.