Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework

Maria Janowiak Patricia Leopold
Posted on: 12/07/2010 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

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Maria Janowiak


The Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework covers 64 million acres of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan within Ecological Province 212 (Laurentian Mixed Forest) of the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units. Provinces are broad geographic areas that share similar coarse features, such as climate, glacial history, and vegetation types. The shaded area on the map below shows Ecological Province 212, a rich mosaic of water features and forests characterized by past glacial activity and Great Lakes climate.

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This diverse landscape is also a transition between the northern boreal forests and the southern hardwood forests. The unshaded areas are outside the scope of the Northwoods Framework.

To meet the challenges brought about by climate change, a team of federal and state land management agencies, private forest owners, conservation organizations, and others have come together to accomplish three objectives:

  1. Provide a forum for people working across the Northwoods to effectively and efficiently share experiences and lessons learned.
  2. Develop new user-friendly tools to help public and private land managers factor climate change considerations into decision making.
  3. Support efforts by public land managers, private landowners, and others to implement new tools for addressing climate change impacts in the Northwoods.


The Climate Change Response Framework is a highly collaborative approach to helping land managers understand the potential effects of climate change on forest ecosystems and integrating climate change considerations into management. Since 2009, the Framework projects have worked to bridge the gap between scientific research on climate change impacts and on-the-ground management. There are currently three ecoregional Framework Projects that encompass 133 million acres in eight states, including 11 National Forests.


This project originated in northern Wisconsin and has expanded to the Northwoods, Central Hardwoods, and Central Appalachians regions. There are multiple components of this project, many of which have been completed in nothern Wisconsin and are in development in other regions:

  • An Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis was created to evaluate key ecosystem vulnerabilities in northern Wisconsin under a range of future climate uncertainty using existing models and information. Additional vulnerability assessments are in development.
  • Mitigation Assessment was developed to consider the potential for and efficacy of different forest carbon mitigation options in northern Wisconsin. A preliminary version of the Mitigation Assessment has been completed, and scientists are working together to produce an expanded assessment.
  • The Shared Landscapes Initiative was established to bring together local forest owners, managers and others to discuss the ecological and management challenges of climate change and to evaluate opportunities for partnerships.
  • Scientists and managers were convened at a workshop on Climate Change Science Applications and Needs in March 2010 to discuss available and needed research and monitoring of climate change and climate change impacts, and potential application of science across northern Wisconsin. 
  • Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate change tools and approaches for land managers provides perspectives, information, and tools to help managers incorporate climate change considerations into management and adapt forest ecosystems in northern Wisconsin to a changing climate.
  • Adaptation projects are currently in development to provide real-world examples of forest management activities that incorporate climate change considerations and foster better-adapted forests, while meeting an array of management objectives.

Outcomes and Conclusions

In April 2014, project leads released Michigan Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis: A Report from the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework Project. The report summarizes potential changes to northern Michigan forests under a range of climate scenarios and assesses the vulnerability of forest communities to these impacts over the next 100 years.

Efforts continue on multiple aspects of this project, including the development of on-the-ground illustrations of adaptation activities. A summary of lessons learned through this project is available here or on the project website.

Project Links


Janowiak, M. & Butler, P. (2010). Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg [Case study on a project of the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science]. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated April 2014)

Project Contact(s)


The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) has been designed as a collaborative effort among the Forest Service, universities, and forest industry to provide information on managing forests for climate change adaptation, enhanced carbon sequestration, and sustainable production of bioenergy and materials.

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