By Denny Gallaudet
At Millbrook Farm in Cumberland, we have a mix of activities, including raising vegetables, sheep and chickens, supported by pasture and hayfields and a 25-acre woodlot. Over the years the woodlot, which is enrolled in the Maine Tree Growth Tax Program, has provided firewood for home use and periodic harvests of saw timber. With the specter of climate change looming large, we have studied our farm activities with an eye toward reducing our carbon footprint and ultimately getting to net zero. Thus in our most recent tree growth program update, we asked the forester to include a carbon sequestration analysis with our management plan. The results were striking.
Our woodlot is the result of farmland that was abandoned in the 1930s and has grown into a healthy, uneven-aged forest with a mix of white pine and such hardwoods as red oak, ash and red maple. Its relatively large timber and high density results in a carbon stock per acre of around 39 metric tons, well above the Maine average of 22-23 metric tons per acre, according to forester Wayne Millen. Further, the annual growth sequesters carbon at the rate of 4.7 metric tons of CO2 equivalents per acre.
As the Millbrook Farm carbon footprint is now around 5 tons per year, our woodlot gets us to net zero with room to spare. On the advice of our forester, we will be changing our forest management practices to enhance carbon sequestration by removing only firewood for home use and saw timber as appropriate. We will leave tops and branches on the ground to decompose naturally, and we will employ low impact forestry techniques to minimize disturbance to the carbon stored in the forest floor. We are convinced and hugely gratified that improved forest management can play a big role in combatting climate change.
About the author: Denny Gallaudet is a MOFGA member and a member of MOFGA’s Low Impact Forestry group.
A note from Peter Hagerty: Thanks to folks like Denny, LIF is learning how low impact forestry management can give new meaning to our forest environment. Whether 3 acres or 300, the trees you own and support can work 24 hours a day to remove harmful CO2 from the atmosphere and store it safely in the forest floor. At MOFGA we are revising some of our extraction guidelines to protect the forest environment as we work it. We welcome your participation in this exciting research and application. For more information, please contact Peter Hagerty of MOFGA’s Low Impact Forestry Committee at [email protected].