NE CASC PI and University of Vermont faculty member Anthony D'Amato collaborated with Paul Catanzaro, a colleague at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, on the recently released publication, Forest Carbon: An Essential Natural Solution for Climate Change. This guide was developed to help woodland owners and managers consider how their forest management strategy affects the carbon within their forest and thus the forest’s ability to mitigate climate change.
As the authors note, trees capture carbon in the form of wood and other organic matter through photosynthesis. Consequently, approximately half of a tree's weight consists of carbon. Because forests cover approximately 80% of New England and the majority of this land is family-owned, the region's family forest owners will have a disproportionately large impact on the amount of carbon New England forests absorb from the atmosphere and store as a means to reduce the effects of climate change.
Much of the publication focuses on making forest owners aware that all land management strategies involve trade-offs between maximizing carbon sequestration and storage and meeting their other goals such as forest resiliency, wildlife conservation and the harvesting of trees for local wood products. The greatest positive impact family forest owners can have on carbon is to ensure that their land permanently remains a forest by engaging in conservation-based estate planning. Moving from a multi-generational to a single-generation perspective, however, the authors note that there is no single right forest management strategy for all land owners.
Ultimately, they conclude that varied management approaches should be employed across New England landscapes so that society can reap the many benefits offered by forests, including carbon sequestration and storage. Landowners, they advise, should work with a professional forester to evaluate their unique combination of goals, forest characteristics, and landscape context to develop a strategy that will meet their needs.
Primarily sponsored by the University of Vermont and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, this project was also underwritten by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the NE CASC.