Creating and Maintaining Resilient Forests in Vermont: Adapting Forests to Climate Change

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation assessed the impacts of climate change on forests throughout the state, and developed the state’s first guide to forest adaptation. The report provides forest practitioners with a comprehensive review of adaptation strategies for current and projected climate change, as well as many policy-level strategies have been included in recognition of the connections between statewide policy and forest management.

A chapter on Natural Community Adaptation Strategies identifies adaptive actions unique to certain natural communities of Vermont, and outlines additional adaptation strategies developed for other areas that can be applied to the forest ecosystems in the state. Strategies are detailed for general silviculture and natural areas management, as well as specifically for Northern Hardwood Forests, Spruce-Fir Northern Hardwood Formation, and Oak-Pine Northern Hardwood Formation. The general adaptation strategies described in the report include:

A1. Sustain fundamental ecological functions: Protect soil quality, nutrient cycling, and hydrology.

A2. Reduce impacts of existing biological stressors on trees and regeneration: Manage invasive species and limit herbivory of native species.

A3. Moderate the impacts of severe disturbances, such as natural stand-replacing fire and wind events.

A4. Create and maintain refugia and increase ecosystem replication across the landscape.

A5. Maintain and improve species diversity and structural complexity and facilitate community adjustments through species transition.

A6. Promote landscape connectivity.

The climate adaptation recommendations for resilient landscapes are focused on connectivity. The report describes how the integrity of this forest is evidenced by the ability of animal species to move through the landscape, keeping healthy populations viable. The ability for species recovery may suggest that this potential remains for the future as forests and wildlife adapt to a changing climate.

Additional strategies for timber management are provided - such as adaptive actions related to various habitat types, water quality, herbivores and forest regeneration, soil productivity, and invasive species and forest pests.



Publication Date: May 2015

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • James Horton
  • Matthew Langlais
  • Timothy Morton
  • David Paganelli
  • Nancy Patch
  • Sandra Wilmot

Related Organizations:

  • Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Planning guides
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


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