forests for the future
Working Forest Reserves
Land that does not have ‘high priority’ conservation values (such as a headwaters lake or a sensitive wetland) can be donated as a working forest reserve. Reserves are owned by Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, are managed for forest restoration, and are open to the public.
Climate-change mitigation activities
On forest reserves we focus on implementing climate-change mitigation activities that restore a forests’ biodiversity through extremely selective timber harvesting and replanting. Often times these forests have come to us having been mismanaged; For example, some have been pushed to an extreme of having a single-tree-species stand that is all the same age. While this is a highly profitable “crop,” it’s not healthy for the soil or the other forest dwellers who rely on those woods, and if something happened, all of the trees would be wiped out at once.
Using a careful and experimental management plan that takes into account likely climate change scenarios more than 150 years into the future, we are helping these forests regain their natural biodiversity and create healthy uneven-aged canopy layers within the forest. Increasing the diversity of species and ages within a forest allows the property to be more resilient to disease, pests, and natural disasters and creates better habitat for birds and other animals.
Our Debelak Reserve is a delightful example of our unconventional harvest style: This large forest was once 98% maple of all the same age, and we are now slowly restoring to a much more natural, less crop-agriculture, type of UP forest. There, we have been selectively harvesting using the “Expanding Gap” silvicultural method, which allows for biodiversity restoration and an improvement of bird and wildlife habitat–and a reduction in high-value timber in the future. We remove the maple and plant and encourage all other native species (whether or not they have any “cash value” ). Since 2010 we have been conducting an annual breeding bird count to monitor any changes in bird species composition due to harvesting activities, and we are happy to report that with just two harvests, we are seeing an increase in both number and varieties of nesting birds at Debelak.