Over the years, there has been a significant amount of uncertainty over the effects of climate change on our native tree species in The Great Lakes Region. We as forest managers are fortunate enough to have access to the Climate Change Field Guide for Northern Wisconsin Forests, which was created jointly by The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) and The Nature Conservancy. We have used the recommendations as described by this climate change guide to provide landowners with an idea for how at-risk their forests will be in the context of a changing climate, as well as related recommendations for what they can do to mitigate these damages. A common trend in the recommendations outlined in this guide describe general efforts to favor species that are found further south, as a changing climate will likely shift the ideal habitable range of these species further north.
A citizen science project by the name of The Assisted Tree Range Expansion Project (ATREP) is currently implementing assisted range expansion with the help of volunteer landowners. Based in the northwest Lower Peninsula, ATREP provides assistance in planting a variety of tree and shrub species found in southern Michigan, including but not limited to: shagbark hickory, black tupelo, swamp white oak, sassafras, tulip tree, and hackberry. Although many of the currently enrolled landowners are in The Traverse City Area, ATREP strongly encourages landowners from other areas to get involved in an effort to expand their sample size. To get involved, visit the ATREP website and follow the instructions under the “Get Involved” tab. Assisting in this project will allow you to contribute to our understanding of habitable range fluctuations of our common tree species while you personally evaluate a changing climate by observing your planted vegetation. More information on ATREP can be found at: atrep.net.