Dirt Rich

23: Oak Savanna Origins

February 3, 2021

Stephen Thomforde, farmer, Stantec Senior Ecologist, and expert in fields of oak savanna research and restoration takes us on a deep dive into oak savannas. Throughout the episode, he describes the patterns of this ecosystem’s growth across geographical space and time, all the way back to when mammoths and mastodons walked Minnesota.

In short, a savanna is a grassland that has trees in it. Trees that have evolved with the grassland and the grazing animals. But even the history of the word originates back to aboriginal North Americans. And in his discussion with host Tyler Carlson, Stephen brings the 1,000-foot view of the ecosystem: illuminating complex details that are often left out of common narratives of oak savanna, and dropping us back in the present day. Why does the management of this landscape matter? What does it have to offer people? Find out in part one of this two-episode interview with Stephen Thomforde and Tyler Carlson.

Stephen Thomforde, Stantec, Senior Ecologist
Tyler Carlson, SFA, Silvopasture & Agroforestry Project Lead

The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.


This episode is supported and funded by a grant from the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). It is part of the “Oak Savanna Restoration through Silvopasture Project” in cooperation with University of Minnesota Agricultural Extension, Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM) at the University of Minnesota, and Great River Greening.

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