A review of challenges and research priorities for northern hardwood forests.
Keywords:northern hardwood forests, research, technology
The northern hardwoods conference held in Fredericton, New Brunswick in 2023 was an excellent opportunity to review challenges and research priorities for stakeholders in northern hardwoods management. The northern hardwoods forest has been changing and continues to change. Forest management and silviculture practices must adapt. We are facing issues with regeneration of limited species, a decrease in tolerant hardwood vigor and quality, climate change and multiple conflicting objectives such as market demand, demand for increasing maple syrup production, and proposed increases in conservation land. Fortunately, the gathering of industry, business, and technology experts, researchers, and government at the Northern Hardwood Conference presents us with some opportunities and solutions. Since its existence, the Northern Hardwoods Research Institute has aligned its research and development operations to address current challenges of the entire forest products sector in the province of New Brunswick. In this report, we highlight the collective challenges in managing for tolerant hardwoods and we present NHRI’s existing and future solutions to those issues that will guide our research priorities going forward. We propose three major focus areas in which to do so: Silviculture of northern hardwood and mixedwood stands, climate smart silviculture / adaptive management, and technology-based solutions to precision forest inventory and digitalizing the forest value chain. These focus areas will each include training, collaboration, adaptive management, and building the tools and technology to help inform practitioners and policymakers to move toward a more valuable northern hardwood forest.