The use and conservation of forest lands is an important but controversial topic in the Midwest. Most Indiana forests are privately owned, small parcels within a highly fragmented landscape. Many landowners do not maintain forests in order to generate income from timber harvest, but instead use their forests for outdoor recreation, hunting, and to enjoy the aesthetic beauty of woodlands. Timber harvest is often promoted as a technique for managing forest lands, to retain high quality species such oak trees, for instance, but is resisted by some people as "unnecessary change" in the land. But habitats will change with time whether or not active forest management is conducted, and many landowners are unaware of the consequences of the management options that are available to them.
The long-term goals of the Sustaining Hardwood Ecosystems signature area are to determine: the ecological and social impacts of long-term forest management on public and private lands in Indiana and the Central Hardwoods Region. We are establishing a research program that examines the impacts of alternative timber management regimes in Indiana forests.
In 2006 we initiated a long-term field experiment in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Forestry on Morgan-Monroe State Forest, called the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment. We created a set of study sites on which the most common approaches to forest management will be implemented and monitored long-term. This framework of study sites will be used to evaluate the response of selected animal and plant species in both the treated areas and the surrounding forest. Simultaneously, we will conduct surveys of landowners and the general public in the communities in the surrounding region, to assess their attitudes toward active land management.
In the next several years, we will continue baseline studies of the selected study sites and expand the study to a wider variety of forest patch sizes, ages, and management regimes, including privately owned forest. The goal of the expansion is to provide a wider array of forest conditions for individual studies and to include benchmark conditions for comparison with our long-term experiment.
To determine the ecological and social impacts of long-term forest management on public and private lands in Indiana and the Central Hardwoods Region
2 Year Objectives
1. Continue baseline studies of the Phase I experiment
2. Plan and execute treatments
3. Expand the study to a wider variety of forest patch sizes, ages, and management regimes.
Professional foresters have an innovative set of management options to promote the maintenance of healthy forest ecosystems. But, some options raise public objections when applied locally, and public attitudes toward active forest management varies among stakeholders. We have initiated a program of scientifically rigorous research that examines the overall impacts of forest management options in order to inform and lead the national discussion on these issues.
We have established a long-term research program that examines the ecological, sociological, and economic impacts of alternative timber management regimes in Indiana forests. We initiated collection of baseline data on a large area of State Forest ownership in 2006 and will implement harvest treatments in 2007-2008. Replicate plots will be established on private ownerships representing varying patch sizes in succeeding years.