New Climate Change Field Guide

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The Earth is warming because increasing carbon dioxide in the air is trapping heat that would otherwise escape into space. This warming of the atmosphere is beginning to impact the climate of Wisconsin and those changes are affecting our forest lands. The impacts will become more pronounced in the coming decades as the rate of climate change accelerates.

A new publication, the Climate Change Field Guide for Souther Wisconsin Forests helps private landowners adapt their woodlands to accommodate those changes and stay healthy. The southern guide joins the Climate Change Field Guide for Norther Wisconsin Forests that is in its second edition (August 2020). The guides are available for free downloads as PDF documents or as hardcopy laminated 4″ x 6″ spiral bound pocket guides.

Overview

The guide begins with an overview of climate change effects on southern Wisconsin forests. That discussion is followed with a method that landowners can use to plan and implement adaptation strategies in their own woodlands. This is a general discussion about process.

The authors then turn to very specific advice first by species then by forest community. They look at both the likely changes and the adaptations needed to deal with the changes. Because it is a field guide, the advice is practical and easy to understand. There are reference to more comprehensive background documents like the Forest Adaptation Resources Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Mangers but the reader can get everything they need for climate focused timber stand improvement right there in the field guide.

The guide contains specific advice for woodland owners with the following forest types:

  • Floodplain Forest
  • Southern Hardwood Swamp
  • Central Sands Pine-Oak Forest
  • Pine Barrens
  • Oak Barrens
  • Oak Opening
  • Oak Woodland
  • Southern Dry Forest
  • Southern Dry-Mesic Forest
  • Southern Mesic Forest

Most of the recommendations mirror other best practices that private landowners already use as part of their sustainable forestry efforts. Climate change adaptation dovetails very neatly with improving wildlife habitat and increasing native plant diversity. It also addresses issues of soil conservation and invasive species.

The best part is how easy it is to focus in on your specific forest stands, to quickly learn about the challenges and tools available to meet them. You get specific tips you can use for your woodland. Landowners can check out the resources and links page for more more in-depth sources on forest adaptation.

Additional Information

For more information or a laminated hard copy of the field guide contact: Steven Handler at the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.

Image of climate change field guide back cover.

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