Aitkin and Cass County Land Departments Collaborate with Dovetail Partners and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
(Mpls, MN) With the growing recognition of the importance of responsibly managed forests, a new partnership has been formed to identify opportunities to market forest-based ecosystem services.
"Carbon sequestration from increased carbon storage in trees and other vegetation is just one example of the beneficial environmental services forests provide; this project will also explore water quality benefits, habitat for wildlife, recreation and other opportunities," says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners.
The Minnesota North Woods Carbon Credit Partnership will use data from Aitkin and Cass County to identify potential market opportunities for forest-based carbon credits. The project will also explore other ecosystem service markets. Dovetail Partners is assisting with project management while the Manomet Center is conducting the data analysis and modeling.
"The potential may exist for forest managers in Minnesota to be recognized in a marketplace for the wildlife habitat and water quality protections that well-managed forests provide," says John Gunn, Senior Scientist with the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.
A common prerequisite for marketing carbon credits and other services is third-party certification of the forest management practices. Both Aitkin and Cass County have had their county-managed lands certified by the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The county lands have been third-party certified for about ten years.
"The carbon credit market for managed forests in our region is largely unknown. This project will enable us to better understand the pros and cons; and make informed decisions regarding the pursuit of this promising forest-based benefit. Once completed, the project can serve as a template for other forestland owners in our region," says Mark Jacobs, Aitkin County Land Commissioner.
Some interest groups have expressed concerns about the validity of carbon credits from actively managed forests. One of the goals of the project is to help illustrate a real-life example of the challenges and opportunities associated with the emerging market for credible carbon offset projects.
"We hope to be able to solidify the public benefits from our public lands and show what might be possible," says Josh Stevenson, Cass County Land Department.
The project is being supported through a grant from the Blandin Foundation.
About Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences is dedicated to sustainability and improving conditions for all life on earth. Founded forty years ago as an independent, nonprofit environmental research center, Manomet brings together stakeholders--communities, individuals, universities, government agencies, and businesses--and guides them through cooperative, science-based solution development.
Manomet's programs focus on enabling communities to measure, manage, and sustain natural systems and the wildlife and people dependent on them. Initiatives include Climate Change, Natural Capital, and Conservation of Migratory Wildlife.
About Dovetail Partners
Dovetail Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. The mission of Dovetail is to provide authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use and policy alternatives. Dovetail excels at solving complex business problems and helping responsible firms to become successful.