This last week I have been touring around our study area and its wider landscape setting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As well as spending a couple of days in the forest ‘helping out’ with some empirical fieldwork being done by MSc student Megan Metonis on the relationship between northern hardwood forest regeneration, timber harvest gap size, and deer browse, I’ve been talking with local managers from the Department of Natural Resources and other management stakeholders.
Whilst I’ll write more about my trip once I’m back at MSU, one of the key things the DNR indicated they would hope our modelling project might achieve is the improved collaboration of multiple land owners and stakeholders, each with their own priorities and expectations, to build the beginnings of a long-term forestry management plan. Such long-term planning has been virtually non-existent in the past, but it was interesting to see an article in a UP newspaper describing the meeting of corporate land owners, natural resource managers and university academics to discuss future land use, ownership and economic trends. This meeting gives me some hope that improved collaboration for forestry management in this area isn’t impossible. If this is the case, as one potential future land owner suggested, the use of the model we’re developing could help develop plans that are based on an ecological approach but backed up with economic justification.