Ecological Forestry Alternatives to Clearcutting in Aspen Forests

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $22,141.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Charly Ray
Northern Ecosystem Services

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Additional Plants: native plants, ornamentals


  • Crop Production: forestry
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    This proposal will continue to work on the problem identified in the 2003 SARE project with research and continued outreach. Forestry requires long term research for results and preliminary work found little in the literature on alternatives to managing aspen because most research is on industrial forestry maximizing short term returns through variations on clearcutting. Aspen regeneration after a harvest can overwhelm other trees initially, but over time will self-thin from crowding or shade. It will take at least a decade to understand what forest is evolving on a site after an alternative harvest treatment (will aspen dominate again? will other more desirable species be established? is planting required?) This project will continue and expand the previous data set so producers may understand the costs and opportunities of alternatives to clearcutting in aspen forests.

    1) Aspen forests in the region are managed largely through clearcutting and little is known about alternative approaches to managing them. Clearcutting creates negative ecological impacts and creates a simplified future forest with limited income opportunities for producers.
    2) Producers do not look at forests as a potential regular income source and are not aware of new USDA funding promoting sustainable forestry.

    Solution: Research the results of different treatments in aspen forests, share these results with producers in the region, and apply findings to the ongoing work with producers in the Living Forest Cooperative. Producers reached with field days and outreach activities will be encouraged to implement sustainable practices in their forests and educated about new USDA funding for forest practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    In the long run, the findings from this research will provide producers with some real information about alternatives to clearcutting aspen and could lead to policy changes at the state level. Publication of research findings in a forestry journal would provide additional influence at the policy level.


    Increased participation in sustainable forestry will be indicated through:

    -attendance at field days,

    -measuring traffic to website,

    -coverage in local media, and

    - producers engaging in EQIP or CSP or developing a management plan.

    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.