Kestrel Land Trust: Buffam Brook Community Forest

Yes
Planning
The Town of Pelham Conservation Commission and Kestrel Land Trust are developing a forest stewardship plan for a new community forest, integrating climate change into forest management activities.

Project Area

The Town of Pelham Conservation Commission and Kestrel Land Trust acquired 161 acres of land for use as a community forest and demonstration area. As a demonstration forest, the Buffam Brook Community Forest will become a living laboratory that will show how sustainable forestry practices can be used to help adapt forests to changing conditions. As a first step, a forest stewardship plan will support the ability of the forest to become more resilient to climate change. It will outline actions to increase the species diversity and structural diversity of the forest in order to decrease recovery time in the event of a large disturbance, like severe weather events associated with climate change, including flood, hurricane, tornado or drought.

Management Goals

The following goals have been identified as part of the forest stewardship plan that is in development:

  • Identify and pursue opportunities for a working forest providing a sustainable wood supply.
  • Provide sufficient protection and habitat for the Eastern box turtle.
  • Provide desirable breeding habitat for forest-interior birds. This includes a full range of forest structures from mature/closed-canopy to partially-open/intermediate to early-successional habitat.
  • Provide adequate access for working utilization and stewardship of the forest.
  • Provide adequate access for sustainable forms of passive and active recreation and education including connectivity to other trails.
  • Provide forest-based source-water protection.
  • Identify forest-based educational opportunities including demonstration of forest stewardship.

Climate Change Impacts

Prior to the acquisition of these lands, the four properties that make up the Buffam Brook Community Forest were identified as being part of a landscape that had high levels of ecological integrity. The forest has relatively low amounts of fragmentation and invasive plant species and high levels of tree diversity compared to many other forests in the region, which suggest a higher level of resilience to climate change and other stressors. The climate change impacts that were identified as having the greatest potential to negatively affect the ecosystems present on the property include: increases in extreme precipitation events, increases in large storm events that cause tree damage and mortality, and future increases in invasive plants, insect pests, and forest disease.

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:

Challenges

Invasive plant species are the biggest threat to ecosystem function. Although invasive species are uncommon now, increases in disturbance from extreme storms or other causes could facilitate their introduction.
Deer could become a problem if future climate conditions or other changes allow populations to increase.
Several vernal pools are present on the property, and these areas could be affected by changes in precipitation and hydrology, especially where conditions become drier. This could negatively affect amphibians and other organisms that use these areas.
Box turtles have historically been found on the property, and it is unclear how altered precipitation and hydrology would affect these species and their habitat.
Some roads and culverts could be at risk from increased precipitation or more extreme precipitation. Infrastructure failures could cause soil erosion and sedimentation.
There are several pests and pathogens that are potentially problematic, including hemlock woolly adelgid.

Opportunities

There are very few occurrences of invasive plants in the interior of the property, especially compared to other areas locally.
There's a wide range of tree species on the site, including species that tend to be found on either wetter or drier sites.
Some species that are present on the site that might be suited to better conditions, including white oak, scarlet oak, shagbark hickory, sassafras, black cherry, and black gum.
There are many opportunities to improve bird habitat, upgrade infrastructure, and increase the age and structural diversity of the forest.

Adaptation Actions

The Adaptation Workbook was used to identify some potential adaptation actions that could be integrated into the forest stewardship plan, including:

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Entire property
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Identify infestations of invasive plant species and determine whether treatment or monitoring is appropriate. Treatment of any existing or new invasive plant populations.
Precautions during timber harvest to prevent new infestations (clean machinery, etc.).
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
6.1. Manage habitats over a range of sites and conditions.
Perform harvest operations in winter to protect box turtles as well as water and soil resources.
Retain coarse woody debris to improve soil organic matter, infiltration capacity.
2.3. Manage herbivory to promote regeneration of desired species.
Continue to allow (and even encourage) deer hunting on property.
Roads, culverts, and woods infrastructure
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Evaluate roads, culverts, and other woods infrastructure to identify current and potential problems.
Remove infrastructure where it is no longer needed, such as my decommissioning roads or removing culverts.
Upgrade infrastructure that is old or underperforming. Replace undersized culverts with larger structures, such as open-bottom arches or timber bridges.
Upland forests
1.4. Reduce competition for moisture, nutrients, and light.
3.3. Alter forest structure to reduce severity or extent of wind and ice damage.
Strategy 5: Maintain and enhance species and structural diversity.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Harvest at least one area to provide wood products and improve bird habitat. Implement silvicultural practices to increase structural and age class diversity, down woody material, and mast species
option (a): Re-cut area that is currently in an earlier-successional habitat to keep it in a younger seral stage
option (b): Create openings in areas with well-established understory to encourage regeneration and bird habitat
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
No active management in some stands during the next 10 years.
10.2. Allow for areas of natural regeneration to test for future-adapted species.
In the event extreme storm damage, allow for natural processes and avoid salvage harvest as much as possible.
Riparian forest/ Riparian areas
1.3. Maintain or restore riparian areas.
Establish riparian areas as a no-management buffer arounds the stream to encourage large trees and natural ecosystem processes.
Recreational trails
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Designate and design new hiking trails to provide for natural drainage of trails and minimize damage in sensitive areas.

Monitoring

As part of the planning process, monitoring items will be identified to help inform future management.

Learn More

Keywords

Invasive species, Upland hardwoods, Management plan, Water resources, Wildlife habitat

Last Updated

Thursday, October 19, 2017