Connecticut College sponsored a 37-acre forest to offset the CO2 emissions associated with the Crozier-Williams Student Center located on the college’s campus in New London, Connecticut. The forest was planted by Reforest the Tropics in November 1999 in the Las Delicias Farm in Costa Rica.
- Eight-year-old Klinkii trees in the Connecticut College Carbon-Offset Forest. Photo taken November 2007.
The key to long-term carbon storage in tropical forests is working with farmers to create profitable forests that combine low-cost CO2 sequestration for US emitters of CO2 with wood production for farmer income. Through forestry efforts such as the one sponsored by Connecticut College, Reforest The Tropics is developing and demonstrating a functioning model to offset developed country emissions in Costa Rica.
- Seven-year old deglupta tree in the Connecticut College Carbon-Offest Forest. Photo taken Jan. 24, 2007.
Many of Reforest the Tropics’ carbon-offset forests implement an innovative “layer cake” design-i.e., a stratified mixture of planted trees which combines fast growth, potential income, strong long-term carbon storage, and ancillary environmental benefits. The Connecticut College Carbon-Offset Forest is one such forest. The nine-year-old deglupta hybrid tree in the photo below is part of the A-layer (above the B- and C-layers) of the specially designed forest.
RTT developed the hybrid deglupta tree for its fast growth and other advantageous characteristics. Tall, straight and widely spaced, the deglupta tree has a light crown that allows light to filter through to the B-layer that contains several species. Not visible in this photo is the C-layer of Klinkii trees; the C-layer grows underneath the other trees to capture the remainder of the solar energy and increase total production in the forest.
Shown above, in this photo of the Connecticut College forest, notice how straight the trees are on this reforested pasture—a forester’s and farmer’s delight! The large tree in the foreground is a native species, a Chancho tree. To the far left is a Klinkii tree absorbing the sunlight that passes through the main canopy, part of the forest’s design. Other smaller trees are awaiting their turn to grow as RTT opens the forest with frequent, light thinnings for farmer income.
By judiciously managing this forest, RTT expects to maintain it intact indefinitely, extracting logs for farmer income while sequestering CO2 for Connecticut College.
We are very interested in species of trees that can fill in under our forests as we harvest/thin the larger trees. This is our approach to developing the RTT forest model that can achieve our goals of long-term income for the farmer, and carbon storage. Here are examples from under-plantings of Gavilan in a 2010 forest. They are straight so far.
Because we know the growth characteristics of these tree species, we can design forests that may better meet the stakeholders needs, namely, the sequestation needs of US emitters who sponsor forests, income for farmers on whose pastures we plant the forests, and the others such as wildlife and the rest of the biome..
The CMEEC 15-Acre Carbon-Offset Forest
In 2000, RTT partnered with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC) to plant a 15-acre forest in Costa Rica to help offset carbon emissions created through CMEEC’s energy generation activities. CMEEC is a publicly directed joint action supply agency formed by the state’s municipal electric utilities.
CMEEC furnishes low-cost and reliable electric power by financing, acquiring and constructing generating resources and implementing power supply contracts. Connecticut’s municipal utilities supply electric power to over 66,000 customers including some of the largest and most prominent industries in Connecticut.
Shown above is the 8-year old CMEEC forest ready to be thinned for farmer income (photo taken September, 2008). The remaining forest, after thinning, will continue to sequester and store the CO2 emissions from CMEEC’s office and vehicle emissions. RTT measures most forests annually to calculate the sequestration rate in this applied research program.
Shown above, RTT staff making measurements on some of the 8-year old trees in the CMEEC forest in Costa Rica. The worker in the tree is measuring the upper diameters of the Chancho trees to be able to accurately calculate their form class, volume and carbon content. Thinnings are an important part of the RTT Model of carbon-offset forests. The RTT Model includes thinnings of forests for farmer income as a way to make the forests sustainable. Sustainability is the key to long-term, indefinite carbon storage in forests.