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MSU forest carbon and climate program a central partner in new USDA grant

December 3, 2021
<p>Remnants of a tree that was cut down. Shot on August 5th, 2021.</p>

Remnants of a tree that was cut down. Shot on August 5th, 2021.

Michigan State Forest Carbon and Climate Program , or FCCP, is a central partner in a new $5.3 million USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP, grant titled Climate Action and Reforestation in Northern Michigan.

The grant focuses on the afforestation and reforestation of over 16,400 acres in 27 counties in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan through the planting of hardwoods and conifers.

FCCP Program Associate Evan Beresford said that the FCCP and its partners hope to "plant around 16,000 acres of trees over the course of five years in order to boost climate change mitigation, prevent land use change and keep forests as forests."

The grant will also be used for the incentivization of forest restoration activities and the encouragement of long-term forest stewardship.

These projects will assist Michigan forest owners in cultivating healthy, resilient forests and will help Michigan meet the need for large scale reforestation on private land. The efforts are a part of a climate change mitigation strategy. 

Forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis, and when they absorb more carbon than they release, they are acting as a “carbon sink.”

This carbon sink function slows climate change by removing substantial amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. This is why it is important to protect our forests and regenerate them as much as possible, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA.

With project partners, FCCP will assess climate benefits through the estimation of carbon sequestration potential and through site monitoring that will assess seedling health and survival rate. FCCP will also be exploring innovative carbon monitoring methods such as remote sensing and field plot data.

Additionally, the program will contain a “train the trainers” aspect for partners and other key agents. FCCP will implement training on carbon storage and management fundamentals, carbon measurements and emerging carbon incentives programs.

The funding is made possible through the USDA RCPP, a sector of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, that promotes the coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that can substantially benefit NRCS efforts. RCPP aims to enact conservation programs that can create innovative solutions and accomplish measurable improvements.

The MSU FCCP stems from the Department of Forestry. Its goals are to increase understanding and implementation of climate-conscious forestry practices. 

‘I'm excited to get working on this,” Beresford said. “I think there's great potential to create change through this and I'm really excited for the role that FCCP is playing in it.”

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