Skip to main content

Scientists are planting 50K trees to help MN's forests survive climate change

It's an effort to make sure there are always pine trees in Minnesota's forests.

There's an effort to make sure there are always pine trees in Minnesota's forests, even as the climate changes.

Coniferous trees like spruce, pine and tamarack thrive in colder, wetter climates. But as the average annual temperature continues to rise, and Minnesota gets warmer and drier, these species of trees may not make it.

There's already evidence they're dying. These trees used to make up 70 percent of northeastern Minnesota's forests, but now it's only about half of that figure, The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota said in an email news release.

"When you look at northern Minnesota, you don’t think of oak and maple trees," Eli Sagor, Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative manager at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement. "You think about spruce and pine, the iconic giant red pines and white pines."

What they're doing about it

To make sure these trees are around in the future, The Nature Conservancy is planting 50,000 seedlings both this spring and next year.

But it's more complicated than just planting a bunch of trees. The conservancy has found what it calls "conifer strongholds" – about 30 areas (they range from 5-70 acres) that give conifers the best chance to survive in future generations.

That's because these strongholds have been historically cooler, or aren't warming as quickly as the rest of northern Minnesota.

"One of the goals of the project is to really shift people’s thinking about conifer planting practices from single species to mixtures of three or more. Planting for diversity can enhance the adaptability of conifer strongholds," Meredith Cornett, of The Nature Conservancy, Minnesota, said in a statement.

This project is supported by a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society, and The Nature Conservancy says the work could be a model for saving needled trees in Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada.

Why we need conifers

Not only are giant pine trees an iconic symbol of northern Minnesota, but they're important both ecologically and economically.

These trees help remove carbon from the atmosphere, as well as provide a habitat for many animals, especially migratory songbirds, owls and moose. The Nature Conservancy says conifer-dependent wildlife has declined as the number of conifer trees has gone down.

They're also important in the forest industry. Conifers are used as pulpwood and sawlogs, among other things.

To read more about Minnesota's forests and what The Nature Conservancy is doing to preserve them, click here.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-08-07 at 11.43.15 AM

Deputies fatally shoot man in Wright County

Police claim the man, who had allegedly been experiencing a mental health crisis, was armed with a knife.

Ambulance hospital emergency

17-year-old killed in northern Minnesota crash Saturday

The other drive involved in the crash, a 75-year-old man, sustained life-threatening injuries.

ATV

Alcohol a factor as driver rolls ATV into corn field, injuring 3

The crash occurred in Lake Lillian Saturday night.

Minneapolis police

Man dies after being found shot at Minneapolis' 38th and Chicago

Responders were called to the scene early Sunday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-08-07 at 6.34.12 AM

7 children arrested after 'disturbance' at Cabela's, escape in stolen vehicle

Employees called police saying the children were stealing goods from the store.

Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 6.16.49 PM

Fire sparks evacuation from apartment building, man arrested for arson

Police and fire crews responded to the fire just before 9 a.m. Saturday.

Flickr - utility pole power line

Morning storms cause power outages, ensuing problems in Eagan

There have been reports of disabled traffic lights and issues at local businesses.

kim crockett facebook sos

GOP nominee questions if those with disabilities, non-English speakers should be able to vote

Crockett made the comments in a 2020 radio interview following a ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Pharmacy

Jury: MN pharmacist did not violate woman's rights by refusing her morning-after pill

Gender Justice, the advocacy group that brought about the lawsuit, says it will appeal the decision.

Screen Shot 2021-10-04 at 3.03.13 PM

Revival to close its original Minneapolis restaurant

Don't worry – it's bringing the chicken to its nearby BBQ joint.

Related

Scientists are planting 50K trees to help MN's forests survive climate change

It's an effort to make sure there are always pine trees in Minnesota's forests.

Could planting more trees save lives – and money – in the Twin Cities?

Air pollution and climate change pose an unparalleled health challenge going forward, could trees be the answer?

Could planting more trees save lives – and money – in the Twin Cities?

Air pollution and climate change pose an unparalleled health challenge going forward, could trees be the answer?

Forest - orono, Minnesota

Report: Forests, agricultural land could help Minnesota reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Nature Conservancy's Minnesota chapter released a report that shows how many acres of trees would be needed to help the state reach its reduction goals.

Northern MN man accused of cutting down, stealing $3,500 worth of trees

The white-barked trees are often used in decorations.

As climate changes, Minnesotans are more at risk from Lyme disease, flooding

Minnesota is not making enough progress reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a report says.

You can't just take Christmas tree tops from a national forest

He stole the tree tops, then sold them to wholesalers.

Gypsy moths: The destructive 'experiment gone wrong' causing worry in Minneapolis

They're known to cause millions of dollars of damage to urban trees and forests.