A video produced in collaboration between UW-Madison, UW-Extension and the Department of Natural Resources encourages Wisconsin woodland owners to adopt land management practices that encourage a future for oak trees in the state. While oak, which has experienced a nationwide decline, is still a dominant forest type in the region, the understory is often lacking the younger age classes that would secure the future of oak. Instead, oak is being replaced by more shade-tolerant tree species.

Successful oak regeneration requires active woodland management that can provide the light and conditions that oaks need to successfully compete and thrive. Most oak woodlands in the Midwest are under private ownership, and thus oak management and the future of oak lie in the hands of private landowners. Encouraging woodland property owners to adopt a new land management practice such as managing for oak is a challenge that can be partially addressed through effective outreach informed by social science.

“We used animation because we wanted people to visually understand why oak need lots of sunlight and how woodland owners can play a role in assuring the future of oak trees on their property,” says Bret Shaw, who co-produced the video. Shaw is Associate Professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Environmental Communication Specialist for UW-Extension.

A link to the research report informing development of this video can be found here. The video was produced by Forestry Insights, a program of UW-Extension with promotional support by the Aldo Leopold Foundation.