New Report on Ecosystem-Based Approach to Forestation

Expanding forests would provide wildlife habitat, water quality protection and other environmental and economic benefits


(Mpls, MN) A new report from Dovetail Partners addresses the environmental and economic benefits of forestation opportunities in Minnesota. The report was developed in partnership with diverse experts and interests.  Reviewers and contributors to the study included representatives from Minnesota Forest Resources Council, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat and Population Evaluation Team, Ducks Unlimited, Land Stewardship Project, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and UPM – The Biofore Company.


“This report expands upon an analysis completed by the Minnesota Forest Resources Council that focused on the carbon sequestration benefits of a million acres of new forest in Minnesota,” says Dave Zumeta, Executive Director of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council.


“There are multiple benefits of forestation beyond carbon sequestration, especially if approached with diverse forest types in mind,” says Dr. Sarah Stai, an ecologist with Dovetail Partners and lead author on the report.  “In addition to an increase in closed-canopy forests, Minnesota would benefit from planting more urban trees and restoring more open-canopy habitats such as savannas.”


Trees are an obvious component of the state’s forests but are also important to habitats within Minnesota’s prairie-forest transition zone.


“The emphasis on trees, not forested acres, is really innovative to this discussion and an important part of this analysis,” responded Randal Dell from Ducks Unlimited.


The benefits of expanding forests in Minnesota include statewide opportunities. More than 5 million acres are identified as suitable for forestation based upon an analysis that included removing from consideration certain important grassland areas and open habitats that should not be converted to tree cover.


“It is important to focus forestation efforts on areas where forests can provide the best and most appropriate wildlife habitat benefits, within the context of the whole ecosystem,” says Daren Carlson, Research Scientist with the Division of Ecological and Water Resources at the Minnesota DNR.


“After reading this report I found myself much more encouraged that forestation on this scale is possible.  The description of efforts in other states, the listing of resources available, and the overlap with the objectives of the state’s constitutionally dedicated funds made me think this is something we could actually get done in Minnesota,” shared Steve Betzer of Minnesota Power.


Recent reports show Minnesota planting about 24,000 acres of trees per year.  Other states around the country, many smaller than Minnesota, plant at least 100,000 acres per year and have utilized diverse incentive and cost-share programs to help private landowners participate.


The goal of replanting forests has been pursued with success in Minnesota in the past through programs such as the Soil Bank, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and Agricultural Conservation Program.


“Historically, we reached high numbers of tree production in the local nurseries during the CCC era of the 1930s.  Now some 75 years later it is both possible and economical to get the nursery production needed.  The true test will be to get buy-in from private landowners,” stated Keith Matson, History Chair for the Minnesota Society of American Foresters.


“We believe that an ecosystem-based approach to forestation in Minnesota is a feasible goal and that existing resources can be used in large part to accomplish large-scale restoration,” concluded Stai.


The report entitled “Maximizing the Environmental and Economic Benefits of a Million Acres of Forestation in Minnesota Through an Ecosystem Restoration Approach” is available at the Dovetail website  (


The direct link to download the report is: