Replanting after timber harvest with climate change in mind

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been wondering what tree species are going to thrive over the next 50+ years as the climate warms in New York and I’m curious if folks are enhancing plantings of particular tree species for future commercial harvest with warmer and longer summers in mind. I’m located in DEC Region 4, in southern Montgomery county.

Here’s a lot more detail...

I’m brand new to this group and was encouraged to join by Brett Chedzoy, whom I’d reached-out to with this same basic question and he thought you all would have some diverse opinions and insights.

Our family purchased a recreational property a little over a year ago near Cobleskill and we were lucky to find one which hadn’t seen timber harvest in at least 40 years. Working with a consultant forester, we have a management plan in place with the goal of generating a healthy and sustainable forest for long-term ownership, but with the ability to generate periodic revenue via timber harvest to subsidize ownership costs.

We have about 85 acres of mature forest containing a mix of hardwood and softwood stands (and some mixed hardwood-softwood) with different planting histories. Site topography varies and has both north and south facing slopes of varying inclines. Soils are predominately silty loam. Most stands are ‘healthy’ at present, but some could benefit from harvest.

Our current focus is a harvest plan for multiple stands which are predominately saw timber sized European Larch, in total about 26 acres, which my forester believes has reached the end of its growth potential and would not respond to a commercial thinning. He’s proposing group selection harvest over a couple of entries in the next 10-15 years. This led to the question, ‘do you want to replant anything, particularly softwoods like Red Pine?’ Which leads to the question above of planting with the future in mind.

I understand that harvesting Larch lends well to natural hardwood regeneration. I accept that species diversity is the best hedge against the unpredictable nature of climate change (and the associated pests and diseases which come with it). To me, that means ensuring a mix of hardwood and softwood stands and it is making me think replanting with softwoods on appropriate sites is beneficial.

With that in mind, we’re looking at Red Pine or Norway Spruce to replant maybe half of the Larch we plan to harvest, with the rest of the stand allowed to regenerate naturally.

On the hardwood side, with deer browse a risk, I’d be looking to use tree tubes to protect certain saplings in the stands to ensure return of more valuable tree species. This should (hopefully) enhance Red Oak and Black Cherry which are present in other stands on the property, and any other valuable tree species that may pop up with some direct sunlight.

I have not considered hardwood planting with species like White Oak, Black Walnut, or Hickory yet, since I’d like to see what regenerates first.

Are there additional softwood species I should consider with future commercial potential? Any advice for managing hardwood regeneration in the face of hotter summers?

Thanks in advance for your time and input.

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Hello,

Though similarly orientated towards a climate-contingency forest, our situation is somewhat different on a couple hundred acres in southern Catskills I've mostly been working solo: degraded northern Appalachian mixed dominated by white pine; no natural hardwoods regen due to deer + lately successive poor masts; predicted shift to central oak-hickory without migration of those species/ adapted populations; thin soil rocky upland resisant to tree spade. 

I've been shifting from heavy pine thinning for deer exclusion matrix, to hardwoods release thinning/ pine-only harvests/hardwoods coppice regen, & preparing for return of fire as beneficial rather than destructive.  In limited derecho-thrown areas, replanting (successful ~90% 5th season) with state nursery hardwoods + some maple from West Virginia program, & recent seeding of own black walnut.  Black cherry doing best of all, & just found last big old mother tree left by high-graders last century.  Some big healthy specimens other good species missed, but overall marginal conditions & poor replacement. 

Looking for select more southerly genetics, opportunities for more wildfire training, & people with whom to develop prescribed fire experience. 

Happy growing, Patrik

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