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New England forestry expert says sustainable logging could help meet UN climate goals

New England Forestry Foundation
Goodell Morse Memorial Forest (above) is a 137-acre forested property overlapping the state border in Woodstock, Connecticut, and Southbridge, Massachusetts. The forest was donated to the New England Forestry Foundation. NEFF has hosted public walks in the woods in recent years.

Members of the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) attended the United Nations COP27 Convention on Climate in November to confer with other experts and leaders about how forests can help fight climate change.

Forests are an essential part of the effort to meet the U,N. goal to cap global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Andrea Colnes, deputy director and climate fellow at the New England Forestry Foundation.

“The only chance we have of getting to 1.5 degrees really no longer depends on reducing emissions,” Colnes said. “We also have to figure out how to remove carbon from the atmosphere. And forests are the one major way the world has of removing carbon from the atmosphere at this point.”

Colnes said one major sticking point has been incentivizing the logging industry — especially smaller businesses — to follow more sustainable practices. She said NEFF was inspired by international programs designed to incentivize countries in the global South.

“In Connecticut, [our] program will be designed to provide incentives to landowners to put in place climate-smart forest management plans, and manage them through support and education and training,” Colnes said.

Colnes also suggested encouraging the use of sustainable lumber in construction projects, the production of which creates fewer carbon emissions than concrete or steel. She said that would, in turn, provide more funding for logging businesses to invest in more sustainable practices.

COP27 ended on Nov. 20.