Older Forest

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Amount of DNR forest lands in older age classes

Why Is This Important?

A forest stand is considered older forest if it is beyond the traditional harvest age for its type. These forests provide the conditions needed by some species of plants and wildlife, improve aesthetics, and produce a greater variety of forest products. Older forests complement the DNR’s old-growth forests on DNR-administered forest lands across the state.

What Is DNR Doing?

Percentages reported reflect the amount of older forest on DNR administered lands for cover types that have rotation ages and SFRMP benchmarks for older forest. This excludes cover types that are managed uneven aged and do not have rotation ages or older forest benchmarks, such as northern hardwoods.   Image 1 of 1 (use left/right arrows to navigate previous/next)

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In 2012, the DNR adopted an adaptive approach to monitor and assess whether desired amounts of older forest are being maintained across all ownerships in Minnesota’s forested landscapes. DNR modified its approach to older forest management due to substantially decreased timber harvest levels in the state, a resulting increase in average age of forests, and the effects of other forest management practices that contribute to older forest attributes.

The DNR will continue to represent all forest age classes, including older forest, on DNR timberlands. Managing for a diversity of stand age classes and cover types is fundamental for sustaining a resilient, productive forest that can readily adapt to new and changing conditions, and continue to provide timber, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and other values.

Target: The amount of older forest to be maintained on DNR forest lands is established at the landscape level through the Section Forest Resource Management Plan (SFRMP) process. SFRMP monitoring measures progress towards the established older forest goals.

Forest age class distributions are monitored across all ownerships and on DNR timberlands at the ecological section scale during the SFRMP process. If monitoring demonstrates that older forests are dropping below the established benchmarks from original SFRMPs (generally 10-15% of the landscape), DNR will adjust its management to provide additional older forests.