Holden Arboretum: Working Woods


The Working Woods is still working on refining their management goals for the property. 

The Sherwin Institute for Woodland Management provides educational opportunities for owners of property from small urban lots to rural woodlots of 10-15 acres to increase their knowledge of how to properly care for, manage, and utilize their trees for environmental, ecological, social, and economic benefits. The Institute’s programs and facilities promote the beauty and importance of trees and other woody plants to create vibrant green communities and native forests within the Great Lakes region.

Project Area

The working woods is a 50 acre woodlot located at Holden Arboretum, Kirtland, OH. The area is divided into two main components. The upland area is dominated by beech and sugar maple, which was once a ‘sugarbush’ for maple syrup production. There is also a lowland area dominated by red maple, which was probably a field historically, but has reverted to woodland. There are mixed oak and hickory, tuliptree, ash, black cherry, and additional species (including invasive species) mixed throughout the fragmented stand.

Management Goals

The overall goal for the property is to develop a model ‘working woods’ for education of small woodlot owners. 
Specific objectives include:
  • Develop a sustainable maple syrup production demonstration.  
  • Conduct a timber stand improvement (thin out over-mature beech and maple).  
  • Create a suite of plots that show how to use woodlots for wood products, non-timber forest products, and wildlife habitat.
  • Improve biodiversity.

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Changes in precipitation patterns leading to potential reductions in soil moisture later in the growing season
Potential increases in heavy storms leading to larger gap disturbances
Potential losses in suitable habitat for sugar maple, red maple, and beech under a high emissions scenario

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:


Maple syrup production may no longer be viable in the long-run if late winter conditions are not favorable or if sugar maple declines.
Declines in many species present in the area may decrease biodiversity


Flexibility to substitute other species for syrup production if sugar maple declines.
Dead trees could create habitats for wildlife
Canopy gaps could create opportunities for new species

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Remove over-mature beech and maple
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Underplant with native species expected to do well under future climate change
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
Increase understory herbaceous layer and litter layer to help reduce erosion and runoff with heavier rain events while promoting regeneration/facilitating reforestation
9.6. Manage for species and genotypes with wide moisture and temperature tolerances.
Plant more species and genotypes of flood-adapted trees, especially oaks with more recalcitrant leaves


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
seedling survival rate
counts of mature and legacy trees
counts of dead snags and woody debris, Note pit mounds and light gaps
count of herbaceous plants, including species groups of tree seedlings
count of number and species of sapling trees and shrubs
depth of O layer
sampling of worm count

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

Understory at vegetation
Working woods understory and trees

Project Documents

Next Steps

Implementation will occur during the next two growing seasons and into the future at Working Woods and in the community.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Leslie or learn more at: http://www.holdenarb.org/visit/SherwinInstituteofWoodlotManagement.asp


Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods, Upland hardwoods, Urban

Last Updated

Tuesday, February 21, 2017