The purpose of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council (MFRC) is to “develop recommendations to the governor and to federal, state, county, and local governments with respect to forest resource policies and practices that result in the sustainable management, use, and protection of the state’s forest resources” (MN Statutes 89A.03). Pursuant to this statutory obligation, the MFRC tasked the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) with the development of a report assessing the impacts, challenges, and opportunities associated with climate change for Minnesota’s forests. The RAC, under MN Statutes 89A.08, exists to “identify and initiate priority forest resources research” by encouraging collaboration, linkages, and communication between those conducting forest research in various disciplines and for various organizations, practitioners in the use of forest resources research, and the legislature. This report is the culmination of the RAC’s effort to assess the potential effects of climate change on Minnesota’s forests and forest management.
Climate change poses a major threat to our environment and natural resources. In Minnesota, there is increasing interest in how climate change will affect our forest ecosystems. Forests, which compose about one-third of the state’s land area, perform highly important ecological, economic, and social services, including the protection and improvement of our water, air, and soil, providing habitat to numerous animal species, and helping the economy of our rural and tribal communities through the recreation and forest products industries. In addition to these services, our forestlands play a crucial role in sequestering and storing carbon. In this capacity, Minnesota’s forests provide our state with a potential tool for mitigating emissions and building a comprehensive climate strategy.