In a significant stride towards sustainable forestry practices, Viles Arboretum has been awarded $25,800 from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund to bolster its Forest of the Future Project. The funding comes at a crucial juncture, providing vital support to an ongoing initiative that delves into climate-smart forestry practices, assisted migration, and the utilization of transgenic species to prepare Maine’s forests against a rapidly changing climate.
Lauren Kircheis, the Director of Research and Education at Viles Arboretum, emphasizes the inevitability of climate-induced transformations in Maine's forest landscape. She notes, “There is no doubt that our climate is going to change the forest landscape that we are familiar with here in Maine, it is just a matter of how we want those future landscapes to look and function.” The grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund becomes a cornerstone in this effort to shape future landscapes strategically.
In addition to facilitating the continuation of the Forest of the Future project, this financial support will also shed light on strategies for land stewards across the State of Maine to preserve crucial ecosystem functions. These functions include providing habitat for wildlife and ensuring Maine’s forested landscape will remain viable for generations to come.
Viles Arboretum aims to make ongoing research more accessible. This grant will support public outreach and involvement initiatives like in-person classes, citizen science initiatives, and interactive digital content which will provide community members the opportunity to engage and contribute.
“We are extremely excited to have support from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund to help us push this critically important research effort to new heights,” expresses Ryan Martin, Executive Director at Viles Arboretum. The grant not only validates the significance of the work but also fuels enthusiasm to expand the scope and impact of the Forests of the Future Project.
As the project gains momentum, Viles Arboretum invites the community to join hands in preserving Maine’s natural heritage. The support from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund not only signifies a financial investment but also a shared commitment to creating resilient and sustainable forest ecosystems that will endure the challenges of a changing climate.