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University of Minnesota Extension

Managing northern hardwood forests

Quick facts

  • Sawlogs and veneer logs are the major wood products. Some species are also harvested for pulpwood. 
  • Growing conditions and regeneration methods vary by tree species. 
  • The best timber grows on moist, well-drained, fertile, loamy soil.
  • Major pests include forest tent caterpillars, nectria canker, sapstreak of maple and heart rot.
Stand of northern hardwood forest

The northern hardwoods forest type includes many tree species, which vary by site and geographic range. 

Species may include sugar maple, American basswood, white ash, black ash, yellow birch, red maple and elms. Occasionally, aspen, paper birch, balsam fir and northern red oak are important. Beech and eastern hemlock range from Michigan eastward.

Sawlogs and veneer logs are the major wood products, but some species are also harvested for pulpwood. Maple syrup is made from sugar maple sap. Wildlife found in a northern hardwood forest may include deer, bear, squirrel, ruffed grouse and woodcock.

Growing conditions


Regenerating northern hardwoods

A wide range of systems can regenerate northern hardwoods, depending on the species you want to favor.


Intermediate treatments

Remove poor-quality trees and undesirable species.

Pest management

Insect and disease pests vary due to the diverse species composition of the northern hardwoods forest type.


CAUTION: Mention of a pesticide or use of a pesticide label is for educational purposes only. Always follow the pesticide label directions attached to the pesticide container you are using. Remember, the label is the law.

Mel Baughman, emeritus Extension forester

Reviewed in 2019

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