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The Potential for Shared Objectives and Benefits

An area of notable evolution within forestry over the past several decades has been the expansion of the types of information foresters utilize in making management decisions. Traditionally, foresters have looked at growth and yield data and measures such as site index to define site potential and management alternatives. In recent years, another tool has been increasingly utilized to aid in identifying management alternatives and to help in decision-making. This tool is the Ecological Classification System.

The adoption of Ecological Classification Systems, also called ECS, has been driven, in part, by foresters’ professional development interests and a need to address a broader range of ecological considerations in decision-making. ECS had also gained increased importance in recent years because of the need to meet forest management certification standards.

This report provides an overview of Ecological Classification Systems, how they are developed and used, and how they fit within the expectations and requirements of forest certification programs. Specific examples of systems developed and used in the Upper Midwest are included.

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