Climate Adaptation Training for Foresters

Final report for EW16-021

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $58,461.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Northwest Natural Resource Group
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Kirk Hanson
Northwest Natural Resource Group
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

The purpose of this project was to train professional foresters and natural resource managers in Oregon and Washington to help woodland owners prepare for and adapt to climate change. In 2019, three full-day workshops covered priority climate adaptation topics for 141 participants. An educational series of 12 videos, geographically tailored to Washington or Oregon audiences, was released online and shared with a network of 3500 foresters and landowners. NNRG wrote and released white paper on climate adaptation tactics for natural resource managers, wrote and released a management plan template, and shared a series of three case studies describing climate adaptation issues on the ground. 

Project Objectives:

NNRG and partners aimed to present information and tactics for climate adaptation in Northwest forests to a professional audience, providing them with the tools needed to implement changes in their approach. The messaging from the workshop curriculum was shared through several platforms, including video and white paper, to reach audiences with different learning preferences and time availability. Topics covered in the workshops, white paper, and videos included: 

  • climate change projections for the Pacific Northwest
  • likely effects on forest ecosystems in western Oregon and Washington
  • adaptation approaches and tactics
  • tools to inform management decisions
  • resources to refer to and share with clients
  • practice thinking through adaptation strategies
Introduction:

After multiple years of drought and above average temperatures, forest producers in the Pacific Northwest are observing changing conditions in the woods. Land managers are noting entire stands of young tree die off, the loss of stands of near-merchantable timber, and death of individual mature trees. Increasingly forestry practices will require specialized knowledge and changes to management activities to ensure individual tree growth and forest development along successional pathways.

This project, Climate Adaptation Training for Foresters, (EW 16-021), sought to train professional foresters and natural resource managers in Oregon and Washington to help woodland owners prepare for and adapt to climate change. In partnership with an advisory team of local, state, and federal climate scientists, forest ecologists, foresters and other land managers, NNRG synthesized current information about climate adaptation best practices for low-elevation forests in Oregon and Washington. This information was shared with natural resource professionals and forest owners through workshops, publications, and videos focused on climate change risks, sensitivities, adaptation strategies, and adaption tactics.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Michael Case
  • Derek Churchill
  • Amy Grotta
  • Jessica Halofsky
  • Josh Halofsky
  • Brian Kittler
  • Lindsay Malone
  • David Perez
  • Dave Peterson
  • Nikola Smith
  • Rowan Braybrook

Education

Educational approach:

The centerpiece of the project was a series of full-day workshops in three locations (Everett, WA; Olympia, WA; and Salem, OR) which were open to foresters, natural resource professionals, land managers, small forest owners and anyone interested in adaptation concepts and strategies for western Oregon and Washington forests. The workshops reached 141 participants.

These presentations were taped, and the twelve edited videos are now available to the public at https://www.nnrg.org/climateadaptation/ as two Washington- and Oregon-specific lecture series. These video presentations will be used in future climate-related work and outreach by NNRG and partners. 

In parallel to the workshops, NNRG:

  • created a climate-aware forest management plan template to help landowners adapt their management planning to climate projections;
  • wrote a white paper covering the workshop topics in more depth, with reference to technical and scientific resources;
  • adapted the white paper into an approachable illustrated manual;
  • wrote three case studies to illustrate how individual landowners were responding to climate impacts of drought, flooding, and changing species; and
  • shared examples from these resources via email and social media to an audience of approximately 3500 natural resource professionals and landowners.

The educational outputs of this project were intentionally created in different formats (video, technical publication, manual, blog, and social media) to provide a comprehensive package that could be approached by the target audience according to their needs and learning style. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Climate Adaptation Workshop Series
Objective:

Provide foresters and landowners in the Pacific Northwest with the knowledge and resources they need to incorporate climate adaptation into their forest management practices.

Description:

Three workshops were held with 141 total participants, and associated educational resources were developed for participants that are now available to the public and will be used in future educational outreach.

Topics covered by educators in the curriculum included: 

  • Climate change projections for the Pacific Northwest,
  • Climate adaptation approaches and tactics,
  • Silvicultural practices to adapt to climate change,
  • Tree species selection – what to plant,
  • Changes in forest hydrology,
  • Diseases, pests, and what to look for, and
  • Fire risk in western Oregon and Washington.
Outcomes and impacts:
  • Participants were surveyed via email after the workshop. The workshop received an overall rating of 3.75 out of 4, and the workshop speakers received an overall rating of 3.55 (scale: 1=poor, 4=excellent). 
  • For the topic “Climate adaptation approaches and tactics”, survey respondents had an average understanding of 2.92 before the workshop and 3.98 after the workshop (scale: 1=no understanding, 5=complete understanding). 
  • For the topic “Silvicultural practices to adapt to climate change”, survey respondents had an average understanding of 2.72 before the workshop and 3.78 after the workshop (scale: 1=no understanding, 5=complete understanding). 
  • For the topic “Changes in forest hydrology”, survey respondents had an average understanding of 2.33 before the workshop and 3.90 after the workshop (scale: 1=no understanding, 5=complete understanding).
  • For the topic “Diseases, pests, and what to look for”, survey respondents had an average understanding of 2.69 before the workshop and 3.68 after the workshop (scale: 1=no understanding, 5=complete understanding).  
  • 61% of respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” to incorporate climate adaptation strategies into forest management plans and 35% of respondents had already done this.
  • 70% of survey respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” to plant site-adapted species using seed sources, and 13% of respondents said they already do this. 
  •  70% of survey respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” to use the Seedlot Selection Tool, and 0 respondents said they already do this.

Educational & Outreach Activities

3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 Published press articles, newsletters
12 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

20 Researchers
30 Nonprofit
25 Agency
30 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
40 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

141 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
98 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
1 New working collaboration
Project outcomes:

Impacts

This project reached 141 people directly and 3500 indirectly. A majority of participants (~70%) indicated they would apply lessons learned from what they learned to their work. This includes updating forest management plans to incorporate climate adaptation, increasing monitoring of forests, managing for more diverse forests with a variety of species, and managing forest density. Approximately half of the participants work in a professional capacity where others will be directly influenced by their approach and knowledge. 

Resources developed through this grant have been made available to the public via https://www.nnrg.org/climateadaptation/ and other portals, and will be used in future outreach. The curricula developed for the 2019 workshops will be brought in to future NNRG workshops, which reach 250-300 people directly per year. 

 

45 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
Additional Outcomes:

NNRG is partnering with the non-profit organization the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, and local agencies Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities to create a climate adaptation forest restoration project in the Puget Trough lowlands. NNRG is leading the the landowner/forest producer and natural resource professional curriculum for this project in 2019. The partners invited NNRG to contribute to this forest restoration project’s educational components based on their understanding of the work we will be carrying out through EW16-021 – Climate Adaptation Training for Foresters. This opportunity was an unanticipated outcome stemming from this project. NNRG is pleased to further distribute the training materials.

More information about the project can be found here: https://www.nnrg.org/stossel-creek-adapted-reforestation-project/ 

Success stories:

Feedback from workshop participants:

“The [workshop] I went to yesterday was focused on the biological aspects of adaptation was as high quality in organization of curriculum and the collection of experts in their respective fields that I have ever attended. The scientists/researchers each had their own specialty sector/niche. Hydrology, soil, pest/disease/pathogens, fire, etc etc. It was an intense and captivating 9 hour day.”

“What was most helpful was that each [of the presenters] were able to substantiate/corroborate the knowledge I went to the event with. It gave great clarity to information that I may have wondered if I had right to begin with.”

“That was the most rewarding for me personally of the many workshops, seminars or events on the subjects covered or subjects connected with forests, climates, etc. that I have ever attended…to have the tops in the fields give those presentations provided more of a sharp, crisp edge and clarity is beyond expectation. I also appreciated the information each gave to be able to follow up for ourselves to get deeper if we choose.”

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.