Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Partnership hopes to improve and expand Appalachian forests and fight climate change

A new carbon-offset program may help replenish Appalachian forests while helping to fight global climate change. The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Kentucky, Rural Action in Ohio and Appalachian Sustainable Development in Virginia have joined to create the Appalachian Carbon Partnership, says a news release from the groups. The program pairs individuals, families, groups and businesses with family forest owners who are practicing sustainable forest management and storing additional carbon in their forests.

The project's Web site provides a calculator for interested parties to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions from travel, home energy use, and other everyday activities. Participants can then purchase carbon offsets from a corresponding family forest to become carbon neutral. The Web site estimates the average American family can reach that goal for $285 a year. Participating landowners are required to develop a management plan in consultation with a certified forester or state forester that will qualify them for forest certification through the international Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. They must maintain their forest certification for a minimum of 15 years from the date of enrollment. Landowners will also be required to report the species and diameter of any trees harvested or lost yearly.

"We created the Appalachian Carbon Partnership to promote sustainable forest management," Scott Shouse, the program's manager, said in a release. "We are tapping into the growing market for carbon offsets to provide the economic help family forest owners in Central Appalachia need to implement sustainable management on their land. The money from the offsets goes directly to family forest owners who have made long-term commitments to practice sustainable forest management, which will benefit families and forests for generations to come."

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