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Individual Highlight

The Future of Ash Forests in Minnesota

Photo of Black ash trees girdled to emulate emerald ash borer attack. Brian Palik, USDA Forest ServiceBlack ash trees girdled to emulate emerald ash borer attack. Brian Palik, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Ash forests of the Great Lakes region are vulnerable to emerald ash borer (EAB) and climate change. Forest Service scientists are successfully establishing Manchurian ash, an EAB-resistant species, as well as other tree species that are adapted to a warmer climate. The project is providing insight into how managers can transition vulnerable forests to climate-ready forests better adapted to future conditions.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Palik, Brian J. , PhD 
Research Location : Minnesota;Michigan;Wisconsin
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 466


The emerald ash borer (EAB) is projected to destroy lowland ash forests of the Midwest--- forests that are important for wildlife habitat, water, and carbon storage. They are also a source of Native American basket making materials. Forest Service scientists, University of Minnesota researchers, and managers from the Chippewa National Forest have implemented an operational-scale experiment in northern Minnesota to emulate EAB mortality in healthy black ash forests and to plant and evaluate various replacement tree species for survival and growth in EAB-affected stands. One of the trees being evaluated is EAB-resistant Manchurian ash, a species that is genetically similar to native black ash. This species establishes and displays good early growth in these forests. Moreover, Native American partners have determined that Manchurian ash is an acceptable alternative to black ash for basket making materials. The experiment includes other tree species that are abundant in more southern climate zones in Minnesota but are projected to have increased habitat suitability in the study region under a future climate. This project is helping managers understand how to transition forests affected by EAB and climate change into future-adapted functional ecosystems that continue to provide important goods and services.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Chippewa National Forest
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Minnesota Forest Resources Council
  • University of Minnesota