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.