What Does Climate Change Mean for Vermont’s Maple Sugarers?

This article describes the impact climate change is having on maple syrup. For an industry that measures time in generations, and works with centuries-old trees, the rapid warming of the planet makes for an uncertain future.

Some studies point to long-term threats to the trees as well. In January, the journal Ecologypublished the results of research that found young maples will be vulnerable to hotter, drier temperatures causes by the changing climate.

Exactly how quickly the change will occur is still up for debate. In February, the USDA Forest Service published an assessment of likely climate change impacts that predicts deteriorating conditions in the coming decades for iconic New England trees such as the paper birch, northern white cedar, and sugar maple. It projects shorter, milder winters, with less snow and more rain.

The Vermont Climate Assessment project goes further. It cites research models predicting that by the end of the century, the northeastern forests could be dominated by oaks and hickories, with sugar maples and other trees being driven north to Maine.

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