Vermont biologists work to shape forests to mitigate climate change effects

Published: Aug. 12, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2023 at 8:08 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For the last few years, an effort to educate people on how Vermont forests can be more resilient against climate change has been in the works.

“We have to make sure we are being good stewards of the wilderness. All the benefits we get out of it, good clean air, everything like that. Want to make sure we still have that for us and future generations,” said Bryan Savard of Williston.

Bryan Savard just moved to Williston from Boston, and when he got here, he wanted to learn about a long-term project between UVM, Vermont’s Department of Forests Parks and Recreation and Fish and Wildlife making its mark on Catamounts Community Forest.

It’s called adaptive silviculture, where foresters and biologists team together to try to understand and manage a forest in a changing climate. Essentially, doing research on the area.

Studying things like habitat life, how the forest shifts over time, and the difference between old and new areas of the forest.

Leading forester of the project, Ethan Tapper, says the project has already taught Vermont so much.

“They have been collecting birding data. So, we want to see the way different species of birds are utilizing the area that we are managing before, and after. Because we are recognizing that our bird species are in decline. That a lot of our forests are missing a lot of critical attributes for their habitats,” said Tapper.

Tapper has been leading wildlife walks through the forests to help educate people on the project and how they can safely co-exist with wildlife.

Terry Marron is no stranger to these series of walks. She says she learns a lot, and the research being done makes her a little less worried about climate change on our existing species.

“What this forest management plan is going to do is create a more diverse habitat for the birds. So, they will be able to breed and thrive and find food. So that’s important,” said Marron.

And fish and wildlife says if we don’t do projects like this, we could lose more species in the long run.

“I think we are seeing some impacts of climate change already. We know that some wildlife will not do well. Some will do well. Worried maybe isn’t the right word, but unsure of how things are going to look,” said habitat biologist Andrea Shortsleeve.