ForCAST is a modeling tool to help plan future forest management

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There’s plenty of attention on climate change and how it will impact our lives. When it comes to the forests, there are many decisions that need to be made.

There is a new tool for resource managers. UMD’s NRRI has developed the Forest Change Assessment Simulation Tool, or ForCAST.

It’s a unique, online tool to help land managers look at options ahead to the year 2100.

“I like to say that all good research starts with a question, and the question that we wanted to answer was: What will Minnesota forests look like in 2100?” John Du Plissis told us. He’s the Forest and Land Group Manager at NRRI.

You can pick different scenarios, model outputs, and years out.

Launched in July, it is a large project with funding provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Du Plissis said that ForCAST is not designed for the cabin owner trying to plan for their 40 acre plot. It’s for bigger, long term landscape planning.

For example, Sappi could look at areas where they get their wood from, and see what changes could happen.

“Where do we want to make investments if we know that our forests are going to change? Are they going to change in a way that will substantially affect what we value, not just for the economy, not just for tourism and recreation, not just for wildlife habitat, but kind of the whole suite of things,” Du Plissis said.

He added that it is a model, so it’s not guaranteed to predict the future 100%.

It includes four watersheds now, and the plan is to expand it to the whole state by the end of 2024.

To check out the tool yourself: /

And to watch a webinar to learn how to navigate the tool: