Established in 1983, Holt Research Forest is celebrating 40 years of rigorous timber and ecosystem study.

Holt Research Forest is celebrating 40 years of long-term ecological monitoring and forestry research! In 1983, the Holt family collaborated with the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources to establish the Holt Research Forest and the associated Holt Woodland Research Foundation. Maine TREE merged with the Holt Woodland Research Foundation in 2014, acquiring the property and committing to the continued pursuit of supporting family forest owners through timber and ecosystem research.

Since its inception, Holt Research Forest has hosted abundant forest ecosystem studies. Researchers have conducted repeated complete inventories of trees in the nearly 100-acre study area, tracking growth and condition over time. Scientists have also collected data on seeds, birds, small mammals, insects, salamanders, and understory flora. The diversity, longevity, and comprehensiveness of these datasets provide a uniquely nuanced story of forest ecosystem change over time on the coast of southern Maine.

Summer research assistant collecting tree data at Holt Research Forest.

Beyond monitoring changes in plant and animal populations, researchers at Holt Research Forest look specifically at how these populations are affected by forest management practices. Timber harvests at Holt, most recently in 2020, allow scientists to identify the impacts of different forest management activities on various plant and animal species. This work provides valuable information to family forest owners and forest managers across the state as they sustainably manage Maine’s woods.

Timber harvests at Holt Research Forest open gaps in the canopy, allowing more light to reach growing seedlings and flowering plants on the forest floor.

Holt Research Forest’s success is thanks to the many scientists who have channeled their time and curiosity into its ecosystem over the last 40 years, particularly Jack Witham, who stewarded and studied these woods for much of that time. It is also thanks to the generosity and vision of the Holt family, who invested in a future of informed and thoughtful forest management in Maine. Maine TREE is excited to embark on the next 40 years of supporting family forest owners through timber and ecosystem research on the Maine coast. 

To learn more about Holt Research Forest and timber and ecosystem research in Maine, visit us at https://holtresearchforest.org/. The videos below provide additional insight into the last 40 years of activity at Holt.

Four-minute overview of Holt Research Forest activities
Feature length overview of Holt Research Forest activities
The 2020 timber harvest at Holt Research Forest

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