You are here: NRS HomePartnerships / SILVAH


The Cedar Club

[photo:] Northern white cedar seedlings.  Photo by Laura Kenefic, US Forest Service Northern Research Station.Northern white-cedar is one of the least-studied commercially important species in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. In the last decade,  forestland owners and managers in the United States and Canada have identified challenges in regeneration, and thus survival, of white-cedar.
When it grows as part of a mixed forest, white-cedar is usually harvested along with other species, without any specific management plan. The extremely high mortality of white-cedar seedlings during their early years often prevents newly established trees from growing into larger trees. Desiccation and heavy browsing by deer populations often lead to complete failure of regeneration.
Why should we care? White cedar provides raw material for cedar shingles and bark mulch, the trees have ecological importance as winter habitat for white-tailed deer and sites for nesting cavities for birds and small mammals.

Scientists don’t often form research clubs, but those researching northern white-cedar in the Northeast and Quebec did just that! In 2003, NRS scientist Laura Kenefic, Canadian and U.S. university faculty, graduate students, non-government organizations, Canadian government researchers, and industry partners formed an informal network to pursue a cross-border collaboration related to northern white-cedar ecology and silviculture. The group members have called themselves “the Cedar Club,” a name reflecting the friendships and camaraderie that have developed along with their work. Over the last decade, the group has supported several students, researched many aspects of northern white-cedar ecology and management, and authored the definitive Silvicultural Guide for Northern White-Cedar (NRS-GTR-98).


Northern white-cedar is a component of the Northern forest found either as occasional trees or patches in mixed stands or as pure stands in boggy/wet environments and also in areas of exposed mineral soil. Its range covers a wide swath across northern New England, New York, and the Great Lakes states, portions of the mid-Atlantic states, and the Canadian Maritime provinces, Quebec, Ontario, and part of Manitoba.

Acres of Forest Affected

Range of white cedar is the
northeastern United States and
adjacent Canada

Active National Forests Involved


The Cedar Club has produced more than two dozen scientific publications and has made numerous presentations to foresters, landowners, and other natural resource managers. In 2013, the Maine Society of American Foresters hosted a sold-out workshop on cedar management in northern Maine in which Cedar Club members presented their findings and discussed challenges faced by managers working with the cedar resource, including habitat management.
The culmination of their first decade of work, the Silvicultural Guide, is an invaluable resource forworking foresters, land managers, and ecologists. The work synthesizes existing knowledge and reports on new studies on regeneration, growth, mortality, site relationships, and responses to treatment. The Cedar Club’s recommendations include retaining and releasing white-cedar in managed stands, and establishing and protecting advance regeneration and residual trees during harvesting. They suggest using a unique multiple-treatment approach for mixed-species stands, with deliberate management of the cedar.


Prior to the Cedar Club’s work, forest managers had little and often-contradictory information about northern white-cedar ecology and silviculture.  In many regions, cedar was either extracted without a plan for long-term sustainability or excluded from harvesting altogether due to fears about overcutting.  The Cedar Club’s findings have improved the scientific basis for northern white-cedar silviculture, and helped landowners both large and small to manage the white-cedar resource for both non-commodity and commodity values.

Lessons Learned

[photo:] Cedar club members from l to r: Jean-Claude Ruel, Université Laval, Québec; Laura Kenefic, NRS and University of Maine; Jean-Martin Lussier, Natural Resources Canada; and Charles Tardif, vice-president of Maibec Inc.---on a field trip in Ashland, Maine (photo by Laura Audibert, with permission). The Cedar Club is a unique research partnership that includes scientists with many specialities from many academic and governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, and forest industries in both the United States and Canada. It grew from the actions of a few people who, realizing the need for more and accurate information about white-cedar, reached out to their colleagues and those concerned about this species and found that there was widespread interest in their work. By working together and collaborating with land managers from the start, the Cedar Club was able to provide immediate and effective assistance to those working “on the ground.” 

Partner Organizations



Last Modified: July 31, 2019