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Climate change considerations were integrated into an approved timber sale.

Staff from the Management Forestry Program of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation used the Adaptation Workbook to consider climate change risks and management opportunities for a timber sale on approximately 101 acres of state forest land.

Project Area

Map of Tannery Road proposed harvest area
The Tannery Road Timber Sale is located near Savoy, MA on Savoy Mountain State Forest. Much of the site is covered in northern hardwood forests that contain a unique mix of tree species. At higher elevations, the state forest contains northern species such as red spruce and balsam fir. Eastern white pine and northern red oak are also present in other areas of the forest. The forest also includes Norway spruce plantations that were established in the 1920’s and1930s.

Management Goals

Mixed northern hardwood forest at Tannery Road

The goals for this property tier to a broader strategy developed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to outline the management activities occurring across all of its lands. For woodlands, this includes goals related to the maintaining the ecological integrity of forested ecosystems, providing opportunities for wildlife habitat and recreation, and pursuing sustainable forestry activities. Management objectives in the northern hardwood areas include improving early-successional and younger forest habitats, increasing stand and species diversity, and responding to forest health issues like beech bark disease and sugar maple decline. Management objectives in the Norway spruce plantations focus on removing the off-site plantations, increasing species and structural diversity, improving wildlife habitat, and improving recreation opportunities related to hunting and wildlife viewing. 

Climate Change Impacts

The forester working on this project identified the following climate change effects as being the most important at this site:
Warmer temperatures and associated changes could make conditions less suitable for species like red spruce and balsam fir that are more common farther north. Shorter and warmer conditions during the winter could increase frost damage to tree roots durin
Changes in temperature and precipitation are expected to change species composition over time, although the relatively high diversity at this site reduces its vulnerability. Northern species may decrease, while red maple, oaks, or hickories may increase.
Increases in extreme weather events could increase damage related to erosion and windthrow.
Norway spruce plantations are expected to continue declining, and may become even more susceptible to windthrow.

Challenges and Opportunities

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


Warmer winter conditions will make it more difficult to implement forest management activities during frozen ground conditions.
More extreme precipitation events may require larger areas of riparian protection. Increases in invasive and undesirable species would increase the costs to control these species, and potentially degrade the natural systems.
Increases in seasonal precipitation and extreme precipitation events may increase the costs with implementing Best Management Practices to protect water quality.
More extreme weather events, changes in freeze-thaw cycles, and milder winters may cause exposed cultural resources to degrade more quickly.


Longer growing seasons may increase tree growth, which may reduce the return interval for forest management activities.
Longer growing seasons and warmer summers may increase the rate of vegetative colonization to sites that have bare mineral soil exposure, reducing opportunities for erosion (i.e.: skid trails, uprooted trees, road shoulders, ditches, etc.).
Some forest management activities may be able to be shifted to summer dry conditions. Lower stream levels and flows during the late summer and early fall may reduce the potential impacts of harvesting near wetlands, or utilizing stream crossings.
A shift in a species composition that favors oak-hickory may increase to quality and value of the timber produced leading to products that remove carbon from the active pool for longer periods of time.

Adaptation Actions

The DCR forester responsible for preparing this timber sale used the Adaptation Workbook to identify how the proposed timber sale could help the area to adapt to climate change. These actions largely centered on increasing the resilience of the stand by encouraging diversity and complexity.

Entire timber sale
Use group selection and gap selection methods to move stands towards uneven-aged conditions. Thinning operations are done with a variable density and designed to promote the healthiest and most vigorous trees.
Large legacy trees are left within the stands.
Install canopy gaps or rows that are large enough to encourage recruitment by a range of species.
Emphasize the removal of species that are sensitive to insect pests and forests diseases, provided they are not listed as threatened or of a unique of specific value; for example, a food source for a listed wildlife species.
Require harvesting equipment to be cleaned prior to arriving on-site.
Use forestry Best Management Practices to protect water features.
Conduct operations in only frozen or very dry conditions.
Norway spruce plantations
Thin the Norway spruce plantations with rows oriented east-west since the most damaging winds typically come from the north.
Ensure that the site has regenerated with target species.


Several monitoring items were identified to help inform future management, including:
Ensure the regeneration of desirable hardwood and softwood species at a rate of 500+ stems per acre.
Continue to monitor erosion and site recovery.
Monitor competition with American beech infected with beech bark disease and exotic vegetation invasion.
Sample residual stem densities at 5 years after harvest in order to track both loss and recruitment of desirable species 5” and over at DBH.

Next Steps

This area was set up for a timber sale, and a forester identified the location of filter strips, archeological/cultural resources, major skid trails, landings, and timber to be harvested. The forester working on the project filed a final cutting plan with the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation and organized a public tour of the project area. The timber sale has been sold, and harvest is planned to occur during 2018 when soil conditions are suitable (very dry or frozen soils). All sale activities, including post-harvest inspections, are expected to be completed within 3 years.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact


Early-successional habitat
Upland hardwoods

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