300 Carbon Sequestration Projects Nationwide

by Lynn Peterson

In a recent article in Science magazine, “Natural Climate Solutions for the United States,” 38 top scientists report that optimizing existing sources that remove (sequester) CO2 could cut atmospheric CO2 levels by 21%.  Most (63%) of the removal would come from plants, and 29% from the soil. Forests have the greatest potential for sequestering CO2, and planting trees in areas previously forested shows the most promise.

Landowners in Woodstock and state forestry personnel can work together to reduce CO2 levels by enhancing carbon sequestration. If done carefully, managing to enhance sequestration would support many of the long-term forest management goals that are already being advanced by Vermont’s state and county foresters, such as enhancing wildlife habitat, providing riparian buffers and reducing hillside erosion. The most important additional requirement would be measuring and monitoring forest growth and setting out a plan (e.g. planting, thinning, protecting new growth, etc.) to provide for the “additionality” required to obtain funds from the markets that pay to manage forests for carbon sequestration and storage, such as the California compliance market or the voluntary investment market.

There are already more than 300 existing projects for sequestering carbon in 28 states including Maine, New Hampshire and New York. The Nature Conservancy has recently enrolled some of its Vermont land in the compliance market.  Enrolling in either the compliance or voluntary market requires approximately 5,000 acres. In order to qualify for the compliance market the parcels of land need to be connected, while for the voluntary market the managed forest can be in separate parcels.

Our forests possess tremendous potential for mitigating climate change: a single full-grown tree can sequester 50 pounds of CO2 in one year. An acre of Vermont forest could contain up to 600 trees and hence sequester 30,000 pounds of CO2.  In comparison, installing 50 solar panels would provide a similar reduction in CO2.  There are many other factors to consider, but the comparison shows the approximate value of optimizing the capacity of Vermont’s forested landscape for reducing the disastrous impacts of climate change.

Sustainable Woodstock has started a Forest Carbon Action Group that meets on the third Monday of every month.  Our initial meeting was attended by 20 people with a high level of interest, including forest experts, landowners and longstanding Woodstock community members. Our next meeting, which is open to all, will be held at 5:30pm on Monday, January 21 in the Ottauquechee Health Foundation Conference Room at 30 Pleasant Street in Woodstock. Right now the group is focused on working with the VT Forest Parks and Recreation Department to update the Coolidge State Forest Management plan.

The VT Forest Parks and Recreation Department (VT FPR) is currently working on updating the management plan for Coolidge East State Forest, which occupies 5,305 Acres in Bridgewater, Plymouth, Reading and Woodstock. There will be a public comment period on the management later in the Fall of 2019. The FCAG proposed that, when the VT FPR rewrites the management plan, they explore options for creating additionality in carbon stocking. Commissioner, Mike Snyder is excited that there is a community group exploring this option and said that the VT FPR is already doing much of the recommendations that would increase carbon stocking, and that they are very interested in learning how they can continue to improve forest management practices.

Just Do One Thing: Reduce, reuse, recycle, and reabsorb

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