Cold Hollow Woodlots: Connecting Landowners across the Landscape

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Planning

Numerous private landowners are considering how their forest management also helps forest ecosystems adapt to a changing climate.

Project Documents

More than two-thirds of Vermont’s forest land is privately owned, making it important to reach out to individual and family forest owners about the potential effects of climate change on their forest lands and ways to help forests adapt to changing conditions. This project is working with a group of 12 landowners to help integrate climate change considerations into their management. Additionally, this project is one of two demonstration locations looking at the effects of climate change on forest bird habitats.

Contact: Maria Janowiak

Project Location and Partners

The Cold Hollow Woodlots are located in the Northern Green Mountains near Enosburgh, Vermont. Ten different landowners have partnered together to create a peer-to-peer landowner network to promote forest conservation in their local community. These properties encompass more than 2,104 acres, of which 1,817 acres is forest. While each landowner has their own forest management plan and specific management goals, the landowners generally share similar management goals focusing on:

  • Privacy and Beauty
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife/Biodiversity (not focused on specific species)
  • Stewardship (an interest in “making it better”)

The Cold Hollow Woodlots are also part of a broader regional conservation partnership, Cold Hollow to Canada, which works to promote land stewardship and wildlife habitat conservation stretching across seven towns on the west edge of the Green Mountains.   This area is one of five priority habitat linkages identified by Two Countries, One Forest as critical in maintaining the integrity of the entire Northern Forest region. Other key partners in both the local and regional efforts include the North Woods Forestry Consulting. Vermont Audubon, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Climate Change and Cold Hollow

While climate change is expected to have a number of wide-ranging impacts on the forests of Vermont, some impacts were identified that are of particular concern to these properties.

  • Extreme and variable precipitation
  • Shorter winters
  • Changes in tree species ranges
  • Increased risk of disturbance

Adaptation Actions

As a first step to understanding how the Cold Hollow Woodlots could be affected by climate change, a landscape analysis was conducted to identify actions that are already identified in the landowners’ management plans that are beneficial in light of climate change. Each of the landowner management plans was reviewed and to identify current management practives that were related to the Adaptation Strategies and Approaches from Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers. This is important because it acknowledges the benefits of sustainable forest management in creating healthy forests, which are expected to be more resilient to climate change. Climate change was not explicitly considered in the development in the existing management plans, but many good forest stewardship activities help to increase the ability of the forest to cope with and adapt to changing conditions. The table below contains a few examples from an assessment completed for one landowner.

 

Project Outcomes and Status

Individual assessments were conducted for each landowner to identify how the management activities specified in their management plants may also help enhance forest resilience to climate change (see summary below). This helps to raise awareness about climate change among private forest landowners and provides a starting point for discussion more dedicated adaptation efforts. As forest management plans are updated and revised, additional adaptation activities will be identified for implementation.

Last updated: May 12, 2015