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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Game Changer": D'Amato Launches Northeast Silviculture Library

Monday, May 2, 2022
Homepage for the Northeast Silviculture Library

The questions of how to document knowledge that forest managers acquire through on-the-ground experience and use it as a resource for informing the work of other managers pose a key challenge for foresters and forest researchers alike. While forest managers in the Northeast routinely employ a wide array of strategies and methods to address climate change impacts, invasive species, and insects and diseases, the lessons they learn from these treatments do not typically extend beyond a small group of colleagues. This limitation exists for several reasons, including the fast pace of many forest management jobs and the limited opportunities available to managers for efficiently disseminating their findings across a professional network. 

Seeking to help forest managers lower barriers to learning from their peers by facilitating the sharing of ground-level experiences,  NE CASC principal investigator Anthony D’Amato has developed a tool designed to establish a regional online forest management community of practice and accelerate advances in forestry management.  Earlier this spring, D’Amato launched the Northeast Silviculture Library (NESL), the only web-based forum for documenting silvicultural prescriptions and outcomes in the Northeast.  A management-driven repository that D’Amato likens to a virtual symposium, the NESL provides a single location and straightforward process for managers to document their successes and challenges in pursuing forestry objectives related to climate adaptation, ecosystem restoration, wildlife habitat management, timber production, cultural preservation, and recreation. 

“I’m excited to launch the Northeast Silviculture Library because it will promote a mutual teaching and learning dynamic among managers as they collectively push forest management in the Northeast forward by building a foundation of experiential knowledge,” said D’Amato. “And by submitting case studies to the NESL, managers will not only expose their colleagues to novel ideas and new information, but they will also help establish an online community that should play a crucial role in building a professional network across New England and the state of New York, the initial target states for the library. My hope is that we will eventually translate this online community into real world connections by using case studies from the library as the basis for in-person workshops and symposium sessions.” 

D’Amato’s optimism about the NESL's potential to transform how managers communicate and think about their work stems from the success of a similar project he launched with colleagues in the Midwest eight years ago, the Great Lakes Silviculture Library. “The Great Lakes Library now contains over 120 case studies submitted by forest managers and has become a widely used professional and community-building resource in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada,” D’Amato said. “Its steady growth has been extremely exciting to watch over the past several years.”

Despite the success of the Great Lakes Silviculture Library, however, D’Amato wouldn’t have initiated a similar project for the Northeast if it hadn’t been for the vocal support of several Vermont resource managers, including Lou Bushey, a stewardship forester for the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. “I was originally introduced to the Great Lakes Silviculture Library through a work-related training session,” said Bushey.  “After trying it out, I recognized how useful a northeastern version of the library could be for learning about what kinds of problems foresters in the region were encountering and how they were dealing with them. So I began to bug Tony D’Amato about building a library for our region, which he has now done. I’ve already submitted a case study to the NESL and am eager to see new case studies added to it. It is going to be a game-changer for foresters in our area.” 

With the launch of the NESL completed, D’Amato plans to promote the library among regional forest managers and encourage them to begin contributing case studies. “I’m looking forward to receiving material for the library–both to ensure its growth and to read about the kinds of work managers are doing across our region,” D’Amato said. “The expansion of the library is going to provide a great learning opportunity for me and others involved with forest management across the Northeast.”

The Northeast Silviculture Library was created with support from the University of Vermont, the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative, the Northern Institute for Applied Climate Science, the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks, and Recreation, the University of Minnesota Sustainable Education Cooperative, and the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.