Working to Create A Greener World – Oct. 24, 2018

Science in the Working Woods

While initially funded with the idea of providing a demonstration of good forest management practices for area landowners, the Working Woods has turned out to be that, and much more. Slated to be implemented starting this winter, forest plots in the Working Woods will see tree thinning, management of exotic shrubs and grapevine, and/or planting of native understory plants. While the public will soon be invited into these spaces to explore how these management strategies reshape the forest, these demonstration plots are also turning out to be valuable research and training tools for Holden Forests & Gardens’ Research Department.

Research: HF&G scientists and collaborators are using the Working Woods to generate data to better understand how these management practices will influence forest productivity, diversity and functioning. While we won’t fully understand the true impacts of these management strategies for years or even decades, we’ve been busy this summer measuring baseline conditions in the forest. These baseline data will allow us to quantify future changes in the Arboretum’s Working Woods. These measurements have included:

Weekly growth of trees

Measuring tree size

Diversity of understory plants

Understory plants in Working Woods

Forest canopy closure

Looking up at the forest canopy

The abundance of non-native shrubs

Measuring multiflora rose

Training for future scientists: We’re also using this forest as a training ground for students interested in careers in biology and the environment. Students ranging from high school students to recent college graduates are working on the project, collecting valuable data for the project and learning plant ID and basic forestry techniques.

Students working on the Working Woods research project.