Scientists predict that global warming will dramatically change the character of New England’s forests and plant life over the next century. Fall foliage will be less brilliant as maple, beech, and birch trees move north. Cranberries, blueberries, and native Concord grapes will no longer thrive without sufficiently cold winter temperatures. Invasive pests and plants threaten to destroy wildlife habitats and take over cropland. Some losses will be economic. As our signature fall foliage retreats, tourism is expected to decline. Maple sugar and paper industry jobs will be lost as maple trees and spruce/fir forests move out of New England.
Forests and plant life are at the heart of many distinctively New England experiences: admiring autumn’s kaleidoscope of colors as you hike a woodland trail in the White Mountains, picking a juicy red tomato grown in your neighbor’s community garden plot in the shadow of Fenway Park, savoring the taste of pure Vermont maple syrup or fresh Maine blueberries on your morning pancakes.
Scientists need more observational data to find out how New England’s forests and plant life are responding to climate change. Check out these citizen science projects for some ideas about how you can help collect valuable data while enjoying New England’s natural beauty.
Maine Plant Watch Share the name of your favorite Maine plant, the location where it's growing, and the first date you saw it blooming this year.
Mountain Plant Monitoring Collect data on the timing of alpine and forest flowering while hiking in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.
National Phenology Network Volunteer to learn about plants and help monitor over 200 plant species found across the United States.
Project Budburst Record and share your observations of the first leafing, flowering, or fruit ripening of plants where you live.
Want to learn more about the impacts of climate change on New England’s forests and plant life? Check out these resources.