Carbon Sequestration

The urgent need to incentivize forest ecology improvement above extractive logging…

California’s annual fire season once was made up of scattered wildfires that have been a part of forested and grassland ecologies for millennia, where fires caused damage of little consequence to healthy tree stands, burning out crowded understory and sapling overgrowth, maintaining healthy forest structure and genetic diversity. In less than 20 years this “fire season” has progressed to multiple annual catastrophic fires burning from July well into late fall, having increasing fatal and disastrous effect to human lives, entire townships, and to the land with which social, ecologic and economic well-being are so intimately intertwined. Not only are we loosing increasingly massive stands of carbon sequestering forestland each year, but these fires are in turn pumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere as they burn. It has become an imperative that we restore what remains of the forests—one of California’s main sources of carbon sequestration.

 

Clear cut at Owl-Creek grove, 1995, Headwaters, Northern Ca. You can see the even age growth in the upper right of this image next to the residue of more recent clear cut logging. The Headwaters Forest became a State Reserve in March of 1999, after the largest forest defense action in U.S. History.

 

98% of California forestland (nearly 50% of which is privately owned) is recovering from clear-cut forestry, which is still legal on private lands and widely practiced. Much of that forestland is 3rd, 4th and 5th generation grow back from multiple clear cuts and is in deep need of tending in order to bring it to a state of health and fire resilience. The even-age growth from post clear cutting that we see today is causing the conditions for the catastrophic fires raging annually. Best-practices forest stewardship that thin overburdened stands of fire-fuel loads, that assists in genetic, age, and species diversity; watershed restoration; and natural succession (the gradual process by which ecosystems change and develop over time); is of our greatest hopes for long term environmentally based carbon sequestration throughout California.

FRG’s mission is to create multiple incentives for prioritizing restorative forest management through small pole utilization.

 
 
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The unfortunate reality is that currently landowners are well compensated for timber felled by clear cutting which also costs far less then if they were to choose selective tree thinning methods. This is among other real challenges toward making a shift to restorative forestry practices a standard. However the FRG has identified real solutions to the ends of main-streamed best-practices stewardship by revitalizing a localized forest product industry sourced from forest restoration projects.

Forestland in Round Valley after selective small tree thinning by FRG member Dane Downing

Round wood from above tree thinning project, finished and utilized by FRG member, Dane Downing.

 

Chalenges >> Solutions

Challenge #1:

Land owners lack the informed will or the means to restore their forestland. The main forest improvement grants available (CFIP and NRCS) do not allow for the sale of thinnings to compensate for expenses, and landowners must put a large portion of the cost up front, making these options prohibitive for far too many.

 
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Solution:

COUNTY, STATE, & FEDERAL FOREST IMPROVEMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Advocate for grants and assistance that are more accommodating for the forestland owner; allow for the sale of by-products from restoration projects; and incentivize utilization of by-products

BUILD CAPACITY AMONG ALL FORESTLAND OWNERS

Advocate for, and host workshops by traditional Indigenous forest stewardship and other forest restoration specialists.

Host workshops on forest improvement grants & assistance

EDUCATE A NEW GENERATION OF HOME BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS ON SMALL DIAMETER POLE UTILIZATION

FRG NATURAL BUILDING ARTS & INNOVATION CENTER

A networking, job training, and educational HUB for natural building techniques and innovation, as well as all aspects of forest reciprocity.

INCREASE EDUCATIONAL & NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES - for all individuals, agences & organizations in all aspects of forest reciprocity

 
 

Challenge #2:

Not yet a market for forest thinnings.

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Solution:

REVITALIZE A BIOREGIONAL ECONOMY

The many abandoned mills throughout Mendocino County can be put back to use with the by-product of small poles from restoration projects, as storage, processing and transport centers.

As more restoration projects are implemented, and with growing interest in ethically sourced small poles for timber frame structures and natural building fire resistant homes, will create demand for more jobs in forestry, transport, pole processing, home design, engineering, innovating.

MARKETING FOR SMALL POLE UTILIZATION

The abundance of small diameter wood is a material-base for housing shortages.

Many meaningful uses including biochar, biomass for gasification electric units, pallets, crates. It is an abundant material-base for a revitalized forest product industry that carries the integrity of making good use of a byproduct of restorative forestry.

Chalenge #3

County agencies thwart large scale, coordinated restoration efforts due to autonomous mandates they must uphold, for example the Air Quality and Resource Conservation Districts.

 
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Solution:

IMPLEMENTING POLICY CHANGES

Stakeholders participate in focus groups created by the newly established Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee to implement policy changes for intra-agency mandates prioritizing GHG emission reduction and carbon sequestration efforts which include land and forest restoration and fire resilience.

CREATE A WIDER BASE OF FORESTLAND & WATRESHED RESTORATION EXPERTISE