By Forrest Boe
The National Association of State Foresters is pleased to announce the launch of a new digital clearinghouse for forest carbon and forest carbon market resources for state forestry agencies.
Mitigating the effects of climate change is one of the greatest policy challenges facing our country and the world today. Policies and programs are being developed at every level to regulate and/or incentivize climate-smart decision making. Forests, which are responsible for absorbing approximately 12% of U.S. carbon emissions annually, are a critical piece of these policy conversations.
Private landowners own 60% of the nation’s forests. Their forests have significant potential to be a carbon solution, not only in the eyes of state foresters, but to policymakers, non-governmental organizations, and private corporations. State-managed forests, which collectively cover over 74 million acres, also have potential, particularly as a model for forest carbon management.
Because our primary mission is to ensure the nation’s state and private forests are healthy and remain intact, state forestry agencies are on the frontline of the forest carbon issue.
Keeping forests as forests—and accruing carbon benefits—necessitates thoughtful management to mitigate insect, disease, and wildfire threats. State forestry agencies deliver technical and financial assistance to landowners so that they may understand their management options and meet their own management objectives. The option of managing for carbon requires additional expertise at the state forestry agency level to best serve landowners and our nation’s forests.
The ramp up of NASF’s work in this space began in earnest in September 2020 with a policy paper on climate change. “Enhancing Forest Resilience and the Role of Forests in Dealing with Climate Change” offers recommendations for increasing carbon storage, improving forest biomass utilization, and mitigating the effects of climate change with federal forestry programs.
Early on in 2021, NASF started the Carbon Network Working Group—made up of state forestry agency land managers and experts, as well as influential partners in forestry—to establish connections and share ideas related to forest carbon. In August 2021, this group published a briefer on forest carbon markets to serve as a practical, educational resource for forestry agency staffs. It also includes recommendations for state forestry agencies as they assist forest landowners in both understanding their carbon market options and including carbon in their management goals.
NASF hopes its newly launched Forest Carbon Network webpage will continue to help NASF members participate in carbon markets. This page hosts NASF carbon resources (like the policy paper and briefer mentioned above), relevant research, notable news, and archived recordings of network meetings. Most importantly, the page is constantly growing! Anyone can submit a resource to be considered for the inclusion on the page by filling out this form.
Forrest Boe is the state forester of Minnesota and the chair of the NASF Forest Resource Management (FRM) Committee. The FRM Committee is comprised of state foresters from the across the country focused on national issues related to private and public forest lands management, including landowner assistance programs, taxes, water resources, and related federal programs and legislation. You can email the NASF Forest Resource Management Committee by clicking here.