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Adaptation Management Strategies for Northern Forest Ecosystems

Climate change is affecting forests in New England and New York and will continue to have impacts into the future. At the same time, individual forest stands will respond uniquely to climate change, depending on their site characteristics and adaptive capacity. Considering local conditions in light of regional changes can help land managers identify adaptation actions by forest type.

Map of assessment area
Map describing Northern Forest Ecosystems.

Climate change and novel forest insects and pathogens are a growing concern for northeastern forests. To address these concerns, foresters and land managers are considering how to adapt to future conditions through on-the-ground management actions. The Northern Forests Climate Hub along with regional partners are developing a set of resources to help managers identify potential management actions to adapt to climate change impacts in northern hardwood, mixedwood, and spruce-fir forests in New England. The resources can guide managers in identifying specific adaptation actions that are most relevant for their site out of a range of adaptation options.

What is Climate Adaptation?

Climate change adaptation means adjusting systems in response to climate change. This is different than genetic or biological adaptation, which is how populations and species undergo genetic changes through time. The overarching purpose of climate change adaptation is to ensure ecosystem integrity and provide environmental benefits to people despite changing conditions. Sustainable forest management, conservation, and restoration can all contribute to climate adaptation.

Adaptation Strategies

The impacts of climate change and other stressors necessitate consideration of a broad array of adaptation strategies to ensure we can still meet management and societal goals. There is no “one size fits all” solution for adapting to climate change – each property presents unique conditions and each land manager will have a different set of goals and a different appetite for risk. Managers will customize adaptation actions by integrating their local knowledge and experience to make informed decisions about the future.

The resource pages in this series summarize information from climate change vulnerability assessments created for three major forest types in New England and northern New York. Adaptation actions to respond to specific climate risks are also highlighted, drawing upon a variety of climate adaptation menus.

Browse Regional Adaptation Strategies by Forest Type

  • Northern Hardwoods

    sun light shining in forest

    Find vulnerability and adaptation tactics for Northern Hardwood forests found in the New England region.

  • Spruce-Fir

    Forest with path

    Find vulnerability and adaptation tactics for Spruce-Fir forests found in the New England region.

  • Mixedwood

    Forested mountains

    Find vulnerability and adaptation tactics for Mixedwood (hardwood-spruce-fir) forests found in the New England region.


This collection of resources was created by partners from the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the University of Vermont, the Forest Stewards Guild, and the USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub who developed the content, original concept, and layout. The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) a collaborative, multi-institutional partnership led and supported by the USDA Forest Service.