Story | 02/23/2023 08:54:40 | 3 min Read time

Forest Action: Growing climate resilience in Minnesota

UPM Blandin, located in north-central Minnesota, manages over 76,000 hectares of forestlands. For over 20 years, Blandin has been recognized as a leader in the implementation of ecological forestry through their SmartForestry℠ methods. Together, UPM Blandin’s Foresters and Forest Ecologist utilize a system of forestry which emphasizes using the science of forest ecology to drive forest management decisions. By examining all aspects of the forest, including not only the trees, but also other plants, soils, and microclimate, UPM Blandin foresters are able to implement silvicultural systems which are tailored to each particular ecosystem.

Commitment to ensure the forests’ long-term health and productivity

Beginning in 2021, UPM Blandin’s Forest Ecologist began to develop a climate adaptation plan for the UPM owned forest lands. UPM is committed to ensuring the long-term health and productivity of its forests and therefore assessing the potential risks of climate change is essential. The plan approaches climate planning using a 3-step approach: 1) assess past, current, and expected climate trends; 2) predict expected impacts to forests based on the best available scientific information; and 3) identify opportunities for action to improve resilience and adaptation outcomes.

Assessing the regional climate, including past, current, and future trends, becomes the foundation of planning. Climate change is expected to be highly dynamic, with changes in temperature and precipitation varying spatially and temporally.

The Forest Action programme enables us to set overreaching responsibility goals for our forest management and wood sourcing.

Recommendations to improve resilience and adaptation of the forest

In north-central Minnesota where UPM Blandin’s forestlands are situated, annual temperatures have been steadily increasing over the past century and are expected to continue in the coming decades. Additionally, the region has experienced changing patterns of precipitation, which are also expected to continue changing. Extensive research has been conducted to understand and predict the impacts that changing climate will have on forests, along with a variety of tools to help foresters manage. In particular, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) has developed a system of assessments and frameworks to assist land managers understand and strategically plan for change. UPM Blandin reviewed its existing forest management practices in relation to these resources to assess its preparedness for climate change. In many ways, the company’s SmartForestry℠ methods along with other important best management practices were adding climate resilience to the forest, while in other areas the company was able to identify areas where improvement could be made.

Altogether, eight major recommendations for UPM to implement in the coming decade to improve resilience and adaptation of the forest were identified. Recommendations include ensuring adequate areas are protected to ensure conservation of rare species, actively favouring climate adapted species which are expected to thrive in warmer conditions and exploring the use of seed or seedlings from warmer and drier conditions to ensure trees are adapted to future climatic conditions. The climate adaptation plan is a good example of forest responsibility actions by UPM under Forest Action.

— The Forest Action programme enables us to set overreaching responsibility goals for our forest management and wood sourcing. It also allows us to put added emphasis on the sustainability of operations, states Scott Juidici, the General Manager of UPM Blandin.

Watch UPM Blandin’s Scott Juidici’s full interview.

Download the Forest Action report.

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