The sanctuary’s landscape consists of a series of hills—a drumlin cluster—that are topped by fields and former orchards. The majority of the forest at Elm Hill is transitional hardwood forest dominated by red oak and including maples and birches, while local farmers lease many fields. Elm Hill supports populations of many wide-ranging animals, including black bear, fisher, and eastern coyote. The sanctuary’s early-successional habitats also support songbird species of conservation concern.
Across the Sanctuary, Mass Audubon will use sustainable forest management and timber harvesting to improve forest health, wildlife habitat, and productivity, as well as generate high quality forest products over the long term. Specific management goals for the next 10 years include:
- Implement a timber harvest across 605 acres of forest using a variety of silvicultural techniques—including irregular shelterwood, clearcut/patch cuts, shelterwood preparation, and group selection— in order to improve forest health and wildlife habitat.
- Create features typical of late-seral forests through silvicultural activities on 30 to 80 acres of forest.
- Manage priority invasive plant infestations in/near proposed timber harvest sites through appropriate techniques, including mechanical and chemical methods.
- Map and prioritize invasive plant infestations on project site.
- Create 105 acres of young forest habitat through clearcut or patch cut treatments.
- Maintain appropriate no- or low-management buffers near sensitive areas to protect these ecosystems.
Climate Change Impacts
For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Challenges and Opportunities
The primary focus of management at Elm Hill is to maintain and enhance species and structural diversity, which will help to demonstrate progressive forestry for the benefit of bird species on conservation concern. These actions will help improve the overall health and function of the forest and increase its resilience to future stress and disturbance.
The Adaptation Workbook helped identify some potential adaptation actions for this project, including:
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
5.4. Establish reserves to maintain ecosystem diversity.
9.2. Establish or encourage new mixes of native species.