UMaine faculty discuss threats climate change poses to Christmas trees with Maine Public – Fernandez et al.

Ivan Fernandez and William Livingston, two faculty researchers with the University of Maine School of Forest Resources, spoke with Maine Public about the threats climate change poses to evergreens in the state. Fernandez, a University of Maine professor of soil science and forest resources and co-chair of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Maine Climate Council, says he expects fir trees will not exist in the wild in Maine in 200 years. Farms, however, may still be able to grow them if new strains are developed. “In cultivation, with irrigation and different genotypes, there could be the capacity to grow a balsam fir in Maine under those intensive cultivation practices going forward,” he says. “But not the ones we have today, and not the way they grow them today, given the climate trajectory we’re on.” Livingston, associate professor and interim director of the School of Forest Resources, said rising temperatures may allow the balsam woolly adelgid — an invasive pest that typically stays in the Maine coast — to travel to forests and tree farms in western Maine. On the other hand, Livingston also said warming may allow Eastern white pines to grow taller.