The Finite Carbon – Lyme Grand Lake Stream Improved Forest Management Project Provides Benefits from Maine to California
Improved forest management practices provide benefits to the local ecosystem, community, and economy while supporting California’s cap-and-trade program
Grand Lake Stream, Maine – Named after the stream that flows through the town, the Grand Lake Stream community in eastern Maine greatly values its natural resources. With a population of 109, the small community is world-renowned for its excellent fishing, hunting, recreation and relaxation activities. The community’s natural resources-based economy provides livelihoods for local craftsmen, guides, sporting ventures, and forest industry workers. And with the recent implementation of the Finite Carbon – Lyme Grand Lake Stream Improved Forest Management Project, the community’s newest venture at the crossroads of the environment and economy lies in carbon offset development.
To protect their community’s forests and waters, improve fish and wildlife habitats, and support the natural resources-dependent economy of the community, the local residents founded the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) in 2001. In 2012, DLLT raised funds enabling the Lyme Timber Company, a private timberland investment management organization, to grant a conservation easement to the state of Maine on 22,000 acres of forestland. The easement permanently protects the property from development and ensures sustainable timber management.
In addition, by improving management practices to increase carbon stocking levels, the forest earned carbon offset credits for use in the California cap-and-trade program. From September 2013 to September 2015, the Lyme Grand Lake Stream Forest removed and sequestered an additional 599,217 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions through its improved forest management practices, which were made in accordance with guidelines specified in the California Compliance Offset Protocol for U.S. Forest Offset Projects.
The forest industry has a long history in the community. Since the early 1900s, the Lyme Grand Lake Stream Forest has served the local timber and pulp industry. Initially owned by the St. Croix Paper Company, the property was part of a nearly one million-acre ownership that stretched across the US-Canadian border. In the 1980s and 1990s, both hardwood areas and much of the mature hemlock were clear cut. In 2008, The Lyme Timber Company purchased the property with the intention of managing it more sustainably.
By incentivizing sustainable harvest and natural forest management practices that achieve denser, bigger, older and a diverse mixture of native tree species, the California Forest Protocol fosters the sequestration of additional forest carbon above and beyond the anticipated baseline, which is the carbon stocks that would be expected under typical commercial forest management for the 100-year duration of the project. The protocol provides detailed and rigorous standards for forest projects to earn offsets for the additional carbon in its reservoir, addressing the project’s eligibility, management, monitoring and calculation requirements. Eligible management activities include increasing the stocking of trees on understocked areas, increasing the overall age of the forest by increasing rotation ages, increasing forest productivity by thinning diseased and suppressed trees, and managing competing brush and short-lived forest species. Forest owners are required to protect the forest for at least 100 years.
In addition to benefits for the climate through greater carbon storage, the Lyme Grand Lake Stream Forest Project achieves significant benefits for the forest ecosystem. Natural forest management practices support wildlife conservation, biological diversity, improved water quality and habitat restoration. The improved ecosystem will benefit the flora and fauna who call Grand Lake Stream home, including the moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, bobcats, 180 species of birds, native landlocked salmon, brook trout, and smallmouth bass. Forest protection is also appreciated by members of the community and visitors who visit the forest to hike, camp, swim and participate in other recreational activities.
“The Finite Carbon – Lyme Grand Lake Stream IFM Project protects the ecological vitality of the forest, promotes native species and mixed age growth in the forest, and increases the carbon storage functionality of the forest significantly,” stated Peter Stein, a Managing Director of The Lyme Timber Company. “We are proud to be part of a project that will enhance carbon storage and preserve forest values for generations.”
The sale of carbon offsets helped the Downeast Lakes Land Trust purchase the 22,000-acre property from Lyme Timber in July 2016. The acquisition was completed as part of an eight-year, $19.4 million campaign and helps fulfill a broader community-led effort to conserve 370,000 acres in the Downeast Lakes region.
Carbon offsets enabled a small, rural community land trust to conserve a large amount of land, protecting it from fragmentation and conversion to other uses. The project guarantees environmental benefits while creating a revenue stream for conservatively managed timberlands.
Members of the community are supportive of the project as the improved management of timberlands preserves forestland for future generations and supports a sustainable forest products economy. The project illustrates how a small group of people can have tremendous power and impact in addressing climate change.
This is the second carbon offset project involving the Downeast Lakes Land Trust. In 2013, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) issued nearly 200,000 offset credits on a 19,118 acre parcel within the community forest, which was the first issuance of compliance forestry offsets for the California emissions trading program.
The Climate Action Reserve is the most experienced, trusted and efficient offset registry to serve the carbon markets. With deep roots in California and a reach across North America, the Reserve encourages actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and works to ensure environmental benefit, integrity and transparency in market-based solutions to address global climate change. It operates the largest accredited registry for the California compliance market and has played an integral role in the development and administration of the state’s cap-and-trade program. For the voluntary market, the Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies and issues and tracks the transaction of carbon credits (Climate Reserve Tonnes) generated from such projects in a transparent, publicly-accessible system. The Reserve program promotes immediate environmental and health benefits to local communities and brings credibility and value to the carbon market. The Climate Action Reserve is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California. For more information, please visit www.climateactionreserve.org.