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Reduce wind and ice damage: Increase structural diversity of the forest

Adaptation Strategies and Actions

Reduce wind and ice damage: Increase structural diversity of the forest

Adaptation type: 
Land protection


Reduce severity or extent of wind and ice damage


Increase structural diversity of the forest

Climate change may make some natural disturbances more frequent and more intense. The most common natural disturbances affecting forests in Massachusetts are wind and ice events. These types of disturbances typically have a disproportionate impact on trees with big crowns in the main canopy.

Forests where many of the trees are the same age and height, may experience greater damage during such events than those with a diversity of tree sizes and ages. Therefore, in order to increase your forest's resiliency, it is important to increase its structural diversity or the number of layers in the forest. This usually means opening large enough gaps in the forest canopy to encourage the establishment of young trees, while also maintaining older and/or larger trees. It is important that your forest has trees of many different heights, many different diameters, and many different species. This increases the number of pathways by which your forest can resist and recover from the impacts of disturbance.

In addition, altering forest structure can also increase the forest's ability to store carbon by increasing the total number of trees growing in the forest. Carbon storage refers to the amount of carbon contained in tree biomass? in a forest. In fact, about 50% of a tree’s mass is carbon.

Scope and Constraints

Repeated at time of harvesting


Forestry Goal 4: Increase species and structural diversity

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