Thursday, October 08, 2009

New "Carbon Canopy" Brings Groups Together for U.S. Southern Forests

A newly announced group of diverse stakeholders say their work to build credibility within US forest carbon market will create incentives to protect, restore and conserve forests while providing sources of paper and wood products from forests managed to a high environmental standard.

Staples, and one-time foe Dogwood Alliance are teaming up with other conservation groups, wood products companies and landowners to announce a new, comprehensive project that will protect forests, combat climate change and help develop sources of paper and wood products certified to the high standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The Carbon Canopy is focused on forests in the Southern US, the largest paper and wood-producing region in the world where 90% of the forests are privately owned. Combined with the loss of forests to development, logging practices such as large scale clearcutting and the conversion of natural forests to plantations has created concerns about the long-term health of the region’s forests.As a first step to addressing these concerns, the Carbon Canopy will develop a pioneering project that will be based on rigorous environmental standards to determine how the emerging US forest carbon market can be credibly leveraged to pay private landowners to expand carbon stores in working forests in the South. The ultimate goal is to create financial incentives for landowners to increase forest conservation and restoration efforts, and to certify management practices to the high standards of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Through the pilot project the Carbon Canopy will “test” how southern forest landowners might benefit financially from expanding forest conservation and restoration on the ground in a working forest certified to the high standards of FSC certification.

The pilot project will be focused on increasing the abundance of older, more mature natural forests through select logging and thinning. In addition to expanding carbon sequestration the management practices will ensure the protection of water quality and biodiversity. The initial project will meet the rigorous carbon accounting standards of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VSC) and the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and the management practices will meet the high standards of FSC certification. Staples and Interface, have offered to pay the pilot project landowner(s) for increases in carbon stored and sequestered as a result of improved forest management practices on the ground. Pacific Forest Trust will manage the development of the pilot project.

“Never before have we seen this kind of collaboration in the South between forest industry, large US corporations, landowners and environmental groups to find real solutions” stated Danna Smith, Executive Director of the Dogwood Alliance.

“This project is a continuation of the important work that we began with Dogwood Alliance years ago to effect change and responsibly preserve and cultivate the forests of the US,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs of Staples Inc. “We are excited to be a part of a project focused on the longevity of our forests, one that will benefit the stewards of the land, positively impact future generations and support local and regional economies by creating products originating from forests managed to a high environmental standard.”

Carbon Canopy partners include: Staples, Dogwood Alliance, Columbia Forest Products, Pacific Forest Trust, FSC US, Rainforest Alliance, Green Press Initiative, Domtar, The Home Depot, Environmental Defense, Interface, The Forestland Group and The Keystone Center.

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