Main Page | Program Search | Project Search
Back to Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program

Adaptation Forestry


Current peer reviewed science points to several highly likely climate-related impacts for Minnesota wildlife and wildlife habitat (Handler et al. 2014). Wildlife species that rely on trees for food or habitat are vulnerable to declines, especially in boreal regions such as the Northwoods given projected declines in suitable habitat. Forest habitats entered the climate change era in a compromised condition. Harvesting practices over the past century have drastically homogenized forest composition and structure, leaving forests vulnerable to existing and emerging stressors. Traditional wildlife habitat restoration, enhancement, and management goals and strategies in the Great Lakes Region are expected to encounter significant challenges under warmer, drier conditions. Forest-dependent wildlife species, most notably migratory songbirds, have already experienced declines associated with habitat loss and degradation. The overarching project goal is to increase the adaptive capacity of forests in northeastern Minnesota such that they continue to provide critical habitat for forest-dependent songbirds and other wildlife. Our project will be conducted at sites representing four distinct upland forest native plant communities (NPCs): Northern Mesic Mixed Forest (FDn43), White Pine-Red Pine Forest (FDn43a), Northern Dry-Mesic Mixed Woodland (FDn33), and Northern Mesic Hardwood Forest (MHn35) ( The project includes roughly 500 acres in each of the four NPCs, for a total of 2,000 acres. All sites been harvested within the last two years and include county, state, and federal lands. The project is a first step in helping northern forests transition to an uncertain future, ultimately influencing the adaptive capacity across millions of acres of forest habitat in northern Minnesota. We call our approach adaptation forestry, a combination of management and planting that increases complexity and bolsters forest resilience. By late Spring, 2014, we will have planted a total of 88,000 climate adapted seedlings (white pine, red oak, and bur oak). Although suited to new warmer, drier conditions, without management intervention these species are unlikely to realize the full extent of their ranges as the rate of climate change outpaces their ability to disperse. In turn, maintaining or increasing diversity of structure and composition of tree species is likely to maintain a diversity of native bird species.

Program Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program

Status In Progress

Dates 06/03/2014 - 06/30/2017

Project Manager Chris Dunham

Grant Recipient The Nature Conservancy

Grant Recipient Type Non-Profit Business/Entity

Primary Funding Source(s) Outdoor Heritage Fund

Grant Amount $50,000

Expended $38,287

Statutory Reference M.L. 2016, Chp. 172, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 5(K)

Management Unit(s) Federal

Habitat(s) FGW

Activity Type(s) Restoration/Enhancement

Primary County St. Louis


Latest Indicator Number of acres enhanced

Target 2000 Acres

Measurement 829 Acres