- The sign reads “A Forest to Sequester Atmospheric Carbon”
RTT CASE STUDY #10: DR. WOLF’S 6.64-YEAR OLD CARBON-OFFSET FOREST IN COSTA RICA, August 17, 2009
In 2002 Dr. Eric Wolf, dermatologist in Groton, CT, sponsored a research carbon-offset forest in Costa Rica to balance the greenhouse gas emissions from his office operations. Reforest The Tropics, a CT-based non-profit organization, offers this opportunity.
An inventory of the operation of Dr. Wolf’s office and vehicle showed annual emissions of 22.6 metric tonnes (MT) of CO2 in 2008. The sources are emissions from the generation and use of electricity in Connecticut, 11.1 tonnes, and emissions from commuting to and from work (9 persons) of 11.5 tonnes.
To balance these emissions, 2 ½ acre forest was established on July, 2002 on a pasture in the Las Delicias Farm in cooperation with the owners, the Rojas Family. A donation to RTT from Dr. Wolf provided a grant to the farm to cover some of the costs of establishment and the management of this long-term research project by RTT.
This graph shows the amount of current annual sequestration and total CO2 storage in this forest through the first 6.64 years. The current sequestration, the amount sequestered in the last 12 months in the forest, was 52.1 tonnes of CO2. The total amount stored in the forest in the past 6.64 years is 183 tonnes of CO2, balancing the emissions of Dr. Wolf’s office operations since the project began. The average capture per year is 27.6 tonnes compared to 22 tonnes of emissions.
Long-term management and profitability for the farmer are the keys to long-term carbon storage in sustainable forests. This project is managed by RTT under an initial 25-year contract between RTT and the farm owners. The forest belongs to the farm while the rights to the CO2 sequestered belong to Dr. Wolf through the RTT agreement with the farmer.
The goal of the specialized management plan is to produce significant income for the farm even while sequestering CO2 indefinitely in the forest stand for the US sponsor. The income is expected to come from the sale of frequent and light thinnings to keep the forest healthy and growing well. This forest has not yet been thinned. The forest is designed using a mixture of tree species selected for biodiversity, biological stability, for fast-growth for early farmer income and for longevity for long-term carbon sequestration. The Rojas family farm hosts 20 projects, each with a different design for creating sustainable forests for long-term income and CO2storage.
In the RTT model, after the first 25-year contract, the farmer may be able to continue selling additional verified offsets to the same sponsor or sell them on the world market. By then, we trust that carbon offsets will be established as a new, valuable product from tropical farms.
This is a UNFCCC-AIJ applied research program to develop and demonstrate an advanced carbon capture and storage forest model and its management for the tropics. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Dr. Herster Barres at 860-572-8199. Our web site is reforestthetropics.org.
RTT CASE STUDY # 9: PRECOMMERCIAL THINNING OF THE MOHEGAN-OFFSET FOREST AT 6.8 YEARS OF AGE.
This forest was planted in August of 2002 to offset the CO2 emissions of the Mohegan Casino in Uncasville, CT. The forest contains 4 tree species, Deglupta, Chancho, Klinkii and Mahogany. This was a pre-commercial thinning, taking out the badly formed trees to favor the better formed. You can see that the two felled trees in this photo were forked at a certain height. They had little or no potential commercial value while the others left behind, did. Those left behind can now grow faster with less competition.
The reason these felled trees are forked was wind damage to the tips when they were younger. This site used to be a pasture. All of the carbon in the stand, including in the roots, is additional. This forest had stored 200 tonnes of CO2/ha when it was 6.5 years old. Farmers will eventually be paid to store carbon (REDD) in forest stands, so information like this is important..
Notice the small Klinkii trees in the lower level of the forest. These shade-tolerant trees will now start to grow faster with the additional light. The role of this tree in the mixture of species is to grow to very large sizes for long-term CO2 storage, part of this RTT design.
We expect to thin this fast-growing forest commercially starting at age 8-10, and again thereafter every 3-5 years. The thinned logs will be sold by the farmer for income, each time leaving the best trees behind in the live forest stand to grow larger. If space appears below the stand, as we expect, other shade-tolerant trees will be underplanted. Their slower growth in that partial shade may produce finer and more valuable hardwood.
These forests were sponsored by US emitters as part of their GHG management plans. This forest was sponsored by the Mohegan Casino in Uncasville, CT. The forests serve as training sites for farmers, students and foresters showing them how to manage farm forests for income and for efficient CO2 capture and storage.
Seated on the log is Rolando Camacho, RTT forester. The farm, Hacienda Las Delicias, is owned by the Rojas Family. Over thirty designs of mixed-species forests are being tested by RTT for efficient carbon capture, long-term storage and for farmer income for sustainability. This is a UNFCCC-AIJ program to develop, demonstrate and apply improved models of carbon-offset forests to manage US CO2 emissions. Photo: June 23, 2009 in Costa Rica.
Ann & Anis Racy sponsored this 2 ½-acre forest to balance their family’s greenhouse gas emissions and to further research into forests on farms in the tropics.
One of the options recently approved at the Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen was the use of forests for capturing and storing CO2. Reforest the Tropics manages a privately funded UN Program to improve, demonstrate and apply farm forests for this purpose.
Forests designed by RTT are unique and advantageous in several ways.
First, they use intimate mixtures of different tree species to achieve biological stability as the climate changes. You can see some of the species in the photo above. In the Racy forest we used 5 species: Chancho, Klinkii, Pilon, Cedar and the fast-growing Rainbow tree.
Second, each of these tree species grow at a different rate. The rainbow tree is capable of producing a commercial size log by the age of 6-8 years. The Chancho tree does the same in 8-12 years. Pilon takes 15-18 years. This allows RTT to manage the forest commercially, thinning it frequently for farmer income while leaving an ever increasing amount of carbon captured in the live forest stand for the account of the Racy family.
Third, thinnings allow RTT to manage the forest sustainably. Long-term carbon storage in the forest is only possible in a sustainable forest, one that never has to be clear cut. Farmers in the RTT Model allow RTT to reforest their pastures, but they do this in the understanding that the forest will be profitable for them. This profitability comes from the forest producing logs from thinnings that the farmer can sell. The RTT Management model involves frequent thinnings of the fast-growing forest to improve the forest stand.
The goal of the RTT Program is to create and manage these new forests for efficient, long-term CO2 capture and storage to mitigate climate change and to fit the financial needs of farmers to enhance sustainability. For more information: reforestthetropics.org or call Dr. Barres, Director at 860-912-7706.