On October 17-18, 2023, over 60 individuals from 27 different organizations joined together in Ashland, Wisconsin, to discuss best management practices (BMPs) for forest bird habitats, and climate change considerations for forest bird conservation. The Northern Forest Birds Network has not met in-person since 2018, so this was a great opportunity to network and catch up on different projects taking place in the boreal hardwood transition zone (Bird Conservation Region 12).

Thanks to everyone who presented on their work (listed alphabetically): Josh Bednar, Brianne Boan, Ryan Brady, Matt Dallman, Peter Dieser, Doug Gorby, Alexis Grinde, Brad Hutnik, Michael Paling, Christian Nelson, Mike North, Linda Parker, and Jordan Winkenbach. Thanks also to the NFBN steering committee for the time spent planning the conference. A special thanks to Colleen Robinson at the Forest Stewards Guild for assisting with registration and communication. Finally, thank you to all who attended to help make this an interactive and productive discussion.

On the first day we focused on who comprises the Northern Forest Birds Network and Upper Mississippi River/Great Lakes Joint Venture and learned what each of them do. We also learned about Forestry for Birds initiatives in Michigan and Minnesota and forest bird habitat BMPs before breaking out into groups to try our hand at implementing BMPs for different forest stand scenarios.

NFBN Conference Attendees

2023 Northern Forest Birds Network Conference Attendees

The second day focused on climate change and how to incorporate future climate scenarios into planning for bird conservation in northern forests. We started by learning about how climate change is already affecting forest bird populations, then learned about aspects of landscape resiliency and the resources that are available through NIACS (Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science), particularly their Climate Change Adaptation Workbook. We closed with a Caroline Lake Preserve case study.

Throughout the conference, questions from the audience led to insightful discussions, especially during panel question and answer sessions featuring all the day’s presenters.

Ultimately, all these discussions only scratched the surface of the issues we face as land managers and forest bird conservationists. Collaboration is necessary as we look towards the future. We closed the conference with an overarching question for the attendees: If there is one thing the Northern Forest Birds Network could do for you or your organization, what would that be? Participants provided us with a sort-of work plan for moving ahead after the conference:

  • Support research-management collaboration linking best available science, effective monitoring, and input on research needs.
  • Public outreach and education.
  • General public understanding of climate change and effects to our northern forest, birds and other wildlife.
  • Continuing to provide products for land owners and managers to reference and use to enhance the land they care for.
  • Provide workshops or training opportunities directly to agencies and organizations.
  • Help with sources for funding.
  • Spreading the word for different forest management practices.
  • Collaborate on messaging that broadens public understanding of forest stewardship from typical timber perspective of what forestry is.
  • Education on management of forests with incoming forest health threats.
  • Disseminate information or research across the region.

The NFBN Steering Committee will use these responses to develop priorities in the year ahead, with an eye toward strengthening the network and sharing sound, science-based products in support of the conservation of northern forest birds.

Until then, join us on Thursday, December 14th at 10am CST we will host a kick-off webinar that will introduce the UM/GL Joint Venture and how the JV can help you!

To get details on our entire 2024 webinar series and receive future forest bird news, subscribe to the Northern Forest Birds Network mailing list.

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Podcasts and Webinars of Interest