Study: How Small Family Forests Can Help Meet the Climate Challenge

Yale Environment 360 discusses how Small Family Forests Can Help Meet the Climate Challenge. As efforts grow to store more CO2 emissions in forests, one sector has been overlooked — small, family-owned woodlands, which comprise 38 percent of U.S. forests. Now, a major conservation initiative is aiming to help these owners manage their lands for maximum carbon storage.

Small family-owned forests like this one make up 38 percent of U.S. forests — together more than 1.5 times the area of Texas, and more than any other ownership type. While most owners want to do right by their land, they rarely have access to the needed expertise or resources. That, however, may be changing. In April, the environmental nonprofits The Nature Conservancy (TNC), American Forest Foundation (AFF), and Vermont Land Trust announced two new programs, powered by a $10-million rocket boost from the tech giant Amazon, to funnel funds from carbon emitters to small landowners like Leiby eager to grow larger, healthier forests.

Climate experts rank sequestration and storage of carbon in trees, which are about half carbon by weight, as among the most affordable and scalable natural climate solutions. A 2017 study found that such solutions, if implemented globally, could provide more than a third of the near-term climate change mitigation needed to meet the targets spelled out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. U.S. forests are especially potent carbon sinks because almost all of them are recovering from logging. The U.S. Forest Service says that the nation’s forests absorb almost 16 percent of the country’s carbon emissions.

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