Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Sustaining oak forests in the 21st century through science-based management

WASHINGTON — Research and Development collaborated with the University of Tennessee to host a symposium to address sustainability of some of the most diverse and important ecosystems in the world, upland oak forests of the eastern United States. Managers, researchers, landowners and other partners in the shared stewardship of mixed-oak forests came together in Knoxville, Tennessee, for three days at the end of October.

Over 145 participants from 20 states participated in oral presentations, a poster session, group discussions and a field tour. Oak forests provide jobs, wood for a variety of forest products and essential ecosystem services, but active management is often necessary to sustain multiple values. Participants came from 10 state natural resource agencies, three federal agencies, two nongovernmental organizations, six companies and 13 universities.

Presentations were followed by question-and-answer sessions that included lively discussion on topics such as:

  • Climate change adaptation strategies
  • Woodland habitat restoration
  • Silvicultural strategies to sustain or restore oak forests
  • Wildlife habitat management
  • Artificial regeneration
  • Fire ecology and prescribed fire to benefit the oak regeneration process
  • Wood products and emerging markets

Stacy Clark and Callie Schweitzer, research foresters with the Southern Research Station, Daniel Dey, project leader with the Northern Research Station, and Thomas Schuler, acting national program leader for Silvicultural Research with the Washington Office, helped coordinate the event with Wayne Clatterbuck, University of Tennessee professor, and David Todd, Assistant State Forester with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. The presentations were recorded and will be available through a partnership with the Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium. The symposium directly supports Forest Service priorities to sustain our nation’s forests and deliver benefits to the public.

Photo: A stand of oak trees. Some have been cut to thin the forest. Some cut trees are still on the ground, covered by fall leaves.
Thinning, as shown here on the Daniel Boone National Forest, was discussed at the Oak Symposium as a method to improve resiliency to climate change. Forest Service photo by Stacy Clark.