Ruth Sandra Sperling
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I just read an article on the Internet that was very upsetting to me.
It covers the problem with carbon offset funds somehow going to logging of primary old growth forests.
Folks - NO, NO, NO - that is not the right way to do carbon offsets.
The primary Old Growth forests on the planet are not supposed to be logged any longer - if absolutely necessary, based on current environmental analysis for fire hazard, small understory trees may need to be removed to protect the Old Growth and keep fire out of Old Growth and their tree canopies. Other than that, no tree removal in primary Old Growth forests should be done.
Carbon offsets are good for protecting Old Growth from removal.
And carbon offsets are good for restoring highly significant areas of forests that have been previously destroyed, such as the Atlantic Forest in Brazil.
Restoring means restoring - not planting so-called "tree-farms" for future logging or homogeneous even-aged tree plantings, either. Restoring means planting hetereogeneously (definition: in a way that is heterogeneous, which is defined as "consisting of or involving dissimilar elements or parts; not homogeneous"), which in terms of trees means planting different species and they should be native species to that forest eco-system. They should also do planting in small groups at different times, so it is not even-aged, but you end with trees of different ages. After a canopy is grown in the area, they should allow natural regeneration. Along with planting trees, the soil and its total underground biotic province needs to be restored.
I have seen a restored forest - restored from cleared land in an farming area in central Illinois - the woodlands of Robert Allerton Park are so beautiful, you can hardly believe that only a fraction of these woodlands are virgin forest. I went to the University of Illinois, which runs Robert Allerton Park, 1969 to 1972 and the canopied woodlands of Robert Allerton Park provided a wonderful place to hike. It was from the head Biologist at Robert Allerton Park, who was a professor at the University of Illinois, that I learned several years ago about the woodlands being to a large part a restored forest with a fraction of it being virgin forest. 1,000 acres of it are now a National Natural Landmark. I have also been told that this is a Regional Biodiversity Hotspot for that eco-region. During my hiking experiences there in the 1970 through 1980, which were truly wonderful for me, I had no idea that it was not a virgin forest. Read about it here: http://www.continuinged.uiuc.edu/oce-sites/allerton/history.cfm.
So, you see, from personal experience and knowledge, I know cleared forest land can be properly restored to be real forest and not a tree farm.
If you donate for carbon offsets, you need to make sure that the program you are donating to is really about restoring trees or protecting trees/land to the level where they actually do sufficient carbon sequestration as to count in offsetting carbon emissions and reducing globally the amount of carbon in this atmosphere - this issue is discussed in an article on Wikipedia, which is very interesting - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_Sequestration.
I mentioned the Atlantic Forest of Brazil here and in earlier posts - the Atlantic Forest of Brazil is listed as a globally significant Biodiversity Hotspot by the International Conservation Scientists of the organization, Conservation Internaltional, www.conservation.org.
Planting the area of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil is one of the programs being done by The Nature Conservancy - "Planting a Billion Trees" at www.nature.org.
Also, on The Nature Conservancy website is an "Ask the Conservationist" article from June 2008 on the subject of "Do Carbon Offsets Really Work?" -- http://support.nature.org/site/PageServer?pagename=asktheconservationist_200806&JServSessionIdr012=3q075ukq61.app43a. Read this article and you will get a realistic answer.
I have discussed this matter several times in my blog posts and I go into information from a number of different scientifically based organizations in my posts - check here to read my earlier posts and get links to various organizations.
I love real forests - but it is more than my love of forests that is my motivation for writing my blog posts -we need live, carbon sequestering forests on this planet, in addition to reducing carbon emissions, for this planet and this web of life to be healthy for us humans to live in.
We all need to take responsibility for this condition.