Climate Effects on the Culture and Ecology of Sugar Maple

Science Center Objects

Maple syrup is produced from the sap of sugar maple trees collected in the late winter and early spring. Native American tribes have collected and boiled down sap for centuries, and the tapping of maple trees is a cultural touchstone for many people in the Northeast and Midwest. Overall demand for maple syrup has been rapidly rising as more people appreciate this natural sweetener. Yet becaus...

Maple syrup is produced from the sap of sugar maple trees collected in the late winter and early spring. Native American tribes have collected and boiled down sap for centuries, and the tapping of maple trees is a cultural touchstone for many people in the Northeast and Midwest.

 

Overall demand for maple syrup has been rapidly rising as more people appreciate this natural sweetener. Yet because the tapping season is dependent on weather conditions, there is concern about the sustainability of maple sugaring as the region’s climate changes. The distribution of sugar maple could move north into Canada and the sap flow season may become shorter in the future. Not only could these changes affect producers and consumers of maple syrup, but they could also impact national forests and states which lease sugar maple trees for tapping.

 

​This project addressed the impact of climate on the production of maple syrup. Results from this analysis, described in the final report below, will enable researchers to identify areas that are likely to be more or less viable for maple sugaring in the future. Throughout this project, researchers engaged with state and federal resource managers, tribal groups, and other maple syrup producers to facilitate the adaptation of maple sugaring to climate change and aid in preserving this culturally and economically significant tradition in the Northeast and Midwest.