What do you get when you bring together cutting edge non-profits, land trusts, consulting foresters, land managers, leading forest products companies with conservation-minded landowners in the beautiful Southern Blue Ridge? The Dogwood Alliance hosted 2013 Spring Carbon Canopy in Asheville, NC of course!
With common goals, 20 people came together in Asheville June 16-17th to review our current pilot projects in Western North Carolina, Southwest Virginia and around the Southern Appalachians. Even getting this group together is, of course, no small accomplishment. Enriched by the multiplicity of viewpoints, we put our heads together and checked-in on the ways our project can help more landowners conserve their land through our working forest model. We focused on the importance of collecting exacting carbon field data and deliberately stratifying forest types to more fully understand the carbon available to bring to market through the carbon offset protocols. On our field trip, I was awestruck once again at the incredible diversity Southern Appalachian forests. No offense, California, but our forests are just plain more diverse than West Coast forests. 😉
The Carbon Canopy Project is a multi-stakeholder initiative, involving large consumers and producers of wood and paper, landowners and conservation organizations working together to advance forest conservation and sustainable forestry in the Southern US. Together, we develop forest carbon projects that generate new revenue for private landowners who commit to long-term Forest Stewardship Council-certified forestry as well as the protection and expansion of forest carbon sinks. We all know that for too long selling timber has been the primary way for landowners to see revenue from their forests.
Co-led by Dogwood Alliance and office products retailer Staples, Carbon Canopy is working to shift this paradigm by creating support for ecosystem service markets and developing projects in the Southern Appalachian region. These projects are designed to reward landowners for good forest management practices that conserve and enhance forest carbon stocks. The carbon stocks are then turned into a new revenue stream as carbon offsets.
This is a new economic vision we are building, one that rewards good stewardship, the maintenance of natural forests while leaving trees in the woods. Based on the amazing natural generosity of Southern hardwood forests, this model can provide a revenue stream for forest products, and carbon will improve the landowner’s forest both as habitat and for high value timber. This is quite a different vision from the push for woody biomass burned for energy. In that model, based on faulty carbon accounting, Southern forests go up in smoke.