The impact of climate change on forest systems in the northern United States: projections and implications for forest management

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


The northern United States is both the most heavily forested and the most densely populated quadrant of the nation. Forests in the region cover 69.6 million hectares, or 42 percent of the land area. In this chapter we characterize mid- and long-term projected climate change impacts for trees and forests of the region. Selected examples at the regional, subregional, and local level suggest some potential pathways for managers seeking to reduce or otherwise mitigate potential impacts on forests. In the medium term (2010-2060), we projected that changes in regional demographic and economic patterns—not in climatic factors themselves—will be the principal influence on these forests. Unless natural disturbance or anthropogenic activities such as biomass harvesting increase considerably, the current middle-aged forest cohort will continue to age with time. Forest types near population centers, such as oak-hickory, are projected to suffer a disproportionate share of land use conversion due to urban and suburban expansion.

Publication Title

Achieving sustainable management of boreal and temperate forests