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In southern and central Minnesota, people are collecting seeds from red oak, river birch, and other local tree species.

Then farmers grow these seeds into seedlings that will be planted in the state’s northern forests.

The project started with research by Julie Etterson of the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

She says that as northern Minnesota warms, it’s becoming less suitable for cold-loving trees like quaking aspen and paper birch.

“And so about 10 years ago, we started this work where we took species that are predicted to do well with climate change – local populations and populations from further south – and planted them up into the northeast corner of Minnesota,” she says.

Etterson says the ones from seeds gathered farther south are growing faster and surviving better.

“And so this experiment gave us confidence that this method of forest adaptation … is actually a successful approach that might be more broadly implemented in our state to retain forest cover and increase forest resilience,” she says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media