Carbon Friendly Forest Management

There are many forest management practices that are carbon-friendly. Here is a good set of practices to consider if you care about forest carbon in your woods.

Manage for a resilient forest

Avoid Forest Loss

Establish Reserves

Extend Rotations

Thinning to Improve Growth

Increase Proportion of Younger Age Classes

Increase Structural Complexity

Retain Big Trees

Increase the Deadwood Pool

Increase Species Diversity

Retain Quality Trees, Limit Damage

Protect Soil & Litter Carbon Pools

Increase Durable Wood Products

Reduce Supply Chain Emissions

Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science

The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science has also developed the following comprehensive menu of options for practicing carbon-friendly forest management:

Strategy 1: Maintain or increase extent of forest ecosystems

Approach 1.1 Avoid forest conversion to non forest land uses
Approach 1.2 Reforest lands that have been deforested and afforest suitable lands
Approach 1.3 Increase the extent of forest cover within urban areas
Approach 1.4 Increase or implement agroforestry practices

Strategy 2: Sustain fundamental ecological functions

Approach 2.1 Reduce impacts on soils and nutrient cycling
Approach 2.2 Maintain or restore hydrology
Approach 2.3 Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasives
Approach 2.4 Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens
Approach 2.5 Reduce competition for moisture, nutrients, and light.

Strategy 3: Reduce carbon losses from natural disturbance, including wildfire

Approach 3.1 Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems
Approach 3.2 Establish natural or artificial fuel breaks to slow the spread of catastrophic fire
Approach 3.3 Alter forest structure or composition to reduce the risk, severity, or extent of wildfire
Approach 3.4 Reduce the risk of tree mortality from biological or climatic stressors in fire-prone systems
Approach 3.5 Alter forest structure to reduce the risk, severity, or extent of wind and ice damage.

Strategy 4: Enhance forest recovery following disturbance

Approach 4.1 Promptly revegetate sites after disturbance
Approach 4.2 Restore disturbed sites with a diversity of species that are adapted to future conditions
Approach 4.3 Protect future-adapted seedlings and saplings
Approach 4.4 Guide species composition at early stages of development to meet expected future conditions.

Strategy 5: Prioritize management of locations that provide high carbon value across the landscape

Approach 5.1 Prioritize low-vulnerability sites for maintaining or enhancing carbon stocks
Approach 5.2 Establish reserves on sites with high carbon density.

Strategy 6: Maintain or enhance existing carbon stocks while retaining forest character

Approach 6.1 Increase structural complexity through retention of biological legacies in living and dead wood
Approach 6.2 Increase stocking on well-stocked or understocked forest lands
Approach 6.3 Increase harvest frequency or intensity because of greater risk of tree mortality
Approach 6.4 Disfavor species that are distinctly maladapted
Approach 6.5 Manage for existing species and genotypes with wide moisture and temperature tolerances
Approach 6.6 Promote species and structural diversity to enhance carbon capture and storage efficiency
Approach 6.7 Use seeds, germplasm, and other genetic material from across a greater geographic range.

Strategy 7: Enhance or maintain sequestration capacity through significant forest alterations

Approach 7.1 Favor existing species or genotypes that are better adapted to future conditions
Approach 7.2 Alter forest composition or structure to maximize carbon stocks
Approach 7.3 Promote species with enhanced carbon density in woody biomass
Approach 7.4 Introduce species or genotypes that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.

The Maine Forest Carbon Task Force also has a helpful list of carbon friendly forest practices and estimated costs in Appendix A of their recent report.

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