The effects of global warming
Healthy forests are a key element in the fight against pollution and global warming, but at the same time they’re very much at risk. Climatic shifts that changed boreal forests to prairies and back again were macro changes in the forests. The changes brought on by modern Minnesotans may be just as drastic.
A warmer climate will bring dramatic change to the northern Minnesota forests. If conditions become warm and dry, forests could be replaced by brushland and savannahs, with open fields, smaller oaks, and stunted pines. A warm but wet climate might still allow oaks and maples to thrive, and forests could become denser. But warmer temperatures also allow some devastating pests, such as the spruce budworm, which is already a problem in many parts of the northern forest, to thrive.
"To preserve and protect..."
Forest land available for industry and recreation has shrunk from 31.5 million acres in 1820 to about 15 million acres today. Because of the significance of the forests to Minnesota’s economy and the threat that irresponsible use of the forests poses, there are a number of laws and policies on the books to help preserve this valuable resource.
In the 1970s, concern for the environment broadened into a sweeping national movement. The year 1970 saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the world’s first Earth Day. In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act and a year later the Endangered Species Act.
Voyageurs National park & Forest Resource Council
The environmental focus in Minnesota was on forests and wilderness. In 1975, after a long struggle, Voyageurs National Park finally became a reality, and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a bill banning logging in the Boundary Waters and expanding wilderness designation there to more than a million acres.
In Minnesota, the legal underpinnings for forestry policy and use stem from the Sustainable Forest Resources Act of 1995. According to this law, it is the policy of the state to:
- Pursue the sustainable management, use, and protection of the state’s forest resources to achieve the state’s economic, environmental, and social goals
- Encourage cooperation and collaboration between public and private sectors in the management of the state’s forest resources
- Recognize and consider forest resource issues, concerns, and impacts at the site and landscape levels
- Recognize the broad array of perspectives regarding the management, use, and protection of the state’s forest resources, and establish processes and mechanisms that seek and incorporate these perspectives in the planning and management of the state’s forest resources
In addition, the law established a Forest Resources Council to implement its initiatives and to advise local, state, and federal government entities on forest policies and practices. The council is comprised of representatives from commercial logging contractors, conservation organizations, county land departments, environmental interests, forest products industry, game species management, labor organizations, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, non-industrial private forest landowners, research and higher education, resort and tourism industry, secondary wood products manufacturers, and the USDA Forest Service.
Even with such a diverse group of professionals working on forest resource issues, the general public still has a considerable role to play. Minnesotans purchase forest products daily, elect officials to make policy decisions on forest use, recreate in forest lands, and seek aesthetic pleasure and enhanced quality of life from the state's forests.
Minnesotans must continue to be good stewards of this renewable resource.
Conservation at the Forest History Center
The Forest History Center implements a number of sustainability initiatives right at the site. Manure from the horses is used as fertilizer for local organic gardening. The Forest History Center is a certified tree farm, and has planted 5,000 trees in the last five years with the help of local scouts, schools, and volunteers.
Forestry education and phenology, the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, is an important part of the site as well, with many phenology events open to the public throughout the year.
The Forest History Center partners with UPM Blandin Forestry, based in Grand Rapids, to support sustainability initiatives and practices throughout the forestry industry.