• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation

The Giesting family is developing a plan to prepare their small acreage (~5 acres) of forest for future climate impacts, while retaining their ability to enjoy the land through hiking, foraging, and producing maple syrup.

A small, family-owned forest, which is connected to other privately-owned forestland (approximately a 500 acre block of contiguous forest, with some openings). It is a mixed hardwood stand, primarily beech-maple, with some oak and hickory. The property has been owned by the family for 25 years, and is utilized for hiking, foraging, and hobby-scale maple syrup production.

Project Area

This family forest is comprised of approximately 5 acres within a ~500 acre block of privately owned forest land in southeastern Indiana. The forested area is surrounded by farm fields and homes. The property has been owned by the family for 25 years and has received no management during that time. They have recently begun transplanting native, edible understory species that are typical of forests in this region, but are missing from their land, likely due to a history of grazing. Wild leeks and wild ginger have already been moved on to the site. There is also a cleared pasture area (approximately 1 acre) that the family is in the process of reforesting with a diverse mix of native tree and shrub species.

Management Goals

  • Manage for the production of edible non-timber forest products for family use.
  • Manage for regeneration of oak and hickory, while retaining enough maple to continue hobby-scale syrup production.
  • Increase site biodiversity, to the benefit of humans and wildlife.

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Warmer and drier conditions may stress the beech-maple component of the forest, changing the species composition of the forest and making it more difficult to continue maple syrup production into the future.
Intense precipitation events are predicted to increase in this region; erosion may be a greater concern in the future, as much of the site is steep hills and ravines.
An increase in invasive species, pests and disease may negatively impact forest health.

Challenges and Opportunities

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


Sugar maple habitat is projected to decline; this, coupled with a projected shorter and more variable sap flow season, may significantly impact the ability to make maple syrup in the future.
Establishing/planting new trees seedlings may become more challenging due the stress of wetter springs and hotter, drier summers.
Invasive species pressure is likely to increase, necessitating increased management.


Warmer, drier conditions, along with an increased risk of wildfire may help facilitate a transition to an oak-hickory ecosystem, which may be desirable for wildlife and human use.
Changing conditions may favor certain desirable species, such as persimmon.

Adaptation Actions

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

Mesic upland forest
Implement prescribed burning to help facilitate transition to oak-hickory ecosystem. Work with NRCS and DNR to develop a burn plan for the site.
Mesic upland forest
Plant a diverse assortment of climate-adapted, food producing species in a one-acre open field (Shingle oak, persimmon, wild plum, American hazelnut, serviceberry, chokecherry, chokeberry, pawpaw, hawthorn, and elderberry)
Plant climate-adapted native species on-site that are locally uncommon (ex: red mulberry), and native to neighboring states to the south (ex: fringe tree)
Mesic upland forest
Remove invasive species. Currently, invasive species pressure in the main forest area is low and is manageable by hand-pulling, which will be performed in the spring, prior to seed development. Species of concern - garlic mustard and multiflora rose


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Perform visual inspections to track changes in species composition over time.
Visually assess extent of invasive species every spring and fall.
Monitor seedling survival; note which species appear to be performing best.

Learn More

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Invasive species
Wildlife habitat

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