National eXtension website offers climate change information for forest owners

Michigan’s forests will likely be impacted by climate change over the coming decades. The national eXtension Climate, Forests and Woodlands website offers excellent resources for forest landowners who want to learn more about.

Michigan’s forests are some of the most extensive in the nation, with nearly 20 million acres of forest land covering 53 percent of the state. Woodlands are subjected to many natural and man-made forces that affect those resources – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Climate change is one of those factors.

The national eXtension Climate, Forests and Woodlands website includes a broad range of information for landowners and professionals interested in trends and potential effects of a changing climate on forests throughout the nation and in Michigan. The eXtension system is an online learning environment containing researched-based knowledge from the nation’s land grant universities.

Nearly all climate scientists agree that climate change is happening, although there is a lot of uncertainty about specific effects on trees and forests. Examples of those changes that may occur include:

  • Reduced forest health
    As forests become more stressed by increased frequency of drought and severe weather events, they become more susceptible to attack by harmful insects or diseases
  • Changes in forest composition
    Research suggests that forest species will shift north, with some southern species showing up in Michigan and some species becoming rarer.
  • Increased forest damage from severe weather events

Great Lakes area climate change scientists project increases in the number and severity of severe weather events, leading to tree blow-down and a greater chance of major forest fires.

The website includes basic, easy-to-read information on caring for forests, climate-forest interactions, forest ecosystems and climate science. The site was created by members of the eXtension Climate, Forests and Woodlands team, with members from around the nation, including Michigan State University Extension. An “Ask an Expert” feature lets users get answers to their specific forests and climate change questions. Later this year, this team will broaden the site to include a wide range of forest stewardship information and resources.

eXtension provides lots of information on all kinds of subjects – not just climate, forests and woodlands. Fact sheets, news articles, learning sessions and opportunities to get answers from national experts make the system an excellent resource for Michigan residents.

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