Conservation of Biological Diversity: Future Forests of the Northern U.S.
2014 harvest to create early seral habitat in Warren Couty. Picture taken in June 2016. Photo by Steve Kallesser
by Steve Kallesser, Division Chair
Under the various storylines considered as part of the Future Forests methodology, several key findings were made. Most pertinent to New Jersey, the oak-hickory forest cover type in forecast to decrease. This is due to losses from both land use conversion (to urban uses) and from lack of disturbance (conversion to maple-beech-birch). This, combined with a gradual increase in median diameter classes (a proxy for forest stand age) represents the greatest threat to tree species richness in the northern forests.
Also pertinent to New Jersey, open-canopy forest habitat is projected to decline in favor of closed-canopy forest habitat. The report gives the caveat that open-canopy habitat is expected to be maintained or slightly increase if there is increased harvesting for biomass, but it projects those operations will occur in heavily forested states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine. Additional concerns that are specific to New Jersey (as a state already parcelized and fragmented) are loss of habitat connectivity through additional land use chage and other factors, and additional loss of core forests.