Optimizing Carbon & Productivity on Degraded Forestlands

Optimizing the Greenhouse Gas Storage Capacity and Productivity of Degraded Forest lands:  Using Rehabilitation Forestry and Carbon Market Participation to Benefit Overharvested Forests in Vermont.

Project Goal

The purpose of this project is to build on the successful market approach of carbon finance used in other regions and apply it to a degraded forest land in Northeast Vermont. In specific, we will define rehabilitative silvicultural prescriptions that optimize carbon storage and productivity; identify the ability of overharvested forests to generate carbon credits under different forest project protocols; assess the actual market interest in such projects; and determine the compatibility of carbon market participation with existing landowner incentive programs. Through this effort, we will create Vermont’s first market ready forest‐based carbon
offsets project. Our findings will be disseminated as a case study to inform landowners, policymakers, non‐profit organizations and state agencies.

Why it Matters

Incentivizing forest management for carbon storage as well as sustainable timber production and other values will play an important role in domestic as well as international climate change mitigation efforts.  High-graded forests are increasingly prevalent in Vermont as landowners respond to the financial incentives associated with high grading and overharvesting, property subdivision, the sale of smaller land parcels, and/or real-estate development.  This project will develop an economically viable model for managing degraded forests for participation in carbon markets, based on rehabilitative silvicultural strategies, which will be an alternative to real estate development.  In addition, this project will inform EQIP managers about the potential risks and rewards of carbon market participation by owners of understocked forests.

Project Team

Laury Saligman, Founder, Conservation Collaboratives
Cecilia Danks, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Vermont
John Gunn, Ph.D ., Senior Program Leader; Maonomet Center for Conservation Sciences
William Keeton, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Vermont
Ben Machin; Partner, Redstart Forestry & Consulting
Emily Russell‐Roy, Policy Project Manager, Pacific Forest Trust

Project Funder

Conservation Innovation Grant.   National Resources Conservation Service, USDA, through the State of Vermont