The Forest Carbon and Climate Program (FCCP) in the Department of Forestry at Michigan State University is a central partner in a new $5.3 million USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant.
The grant is focused on reforestation of over 16,400 acres in 27 counties in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. Partners of this grant, titled Climate Action and Reforestation in Northern Michigan, include Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Huron Pines, and the World Resource Institute (WRI).
As part of a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy, the project will help Michigan meet the enormous need for reforestation on private land at a large scale.
Fundamentally, the project helps Michigan forest owners develop healthy, climate-resilient forests that store carbon and provide sustainable, long-term sources of income for their families, thus helping to prevent conversion of forest to other land uses. Once eligible producers are selected, they will receive financial and technical assistance from private sector tree planting contractors, conservation district foresters, qualified private sector foresters, and the FCCP.
“This project demonstrates the power of forests as a natural climate solution: multiple actors coming together to address climate change and provide profound benefits for environment, economy, and communities. The project will not only support Michigan carbon neutrality targets, it sets our state on a leadership course in addressing climate by investing in restoration and a climate-smart forest bioeconomy,” said FCCP Program Director Lauren Cooper.
With partners, MSU FCCP will assess climate benefits by estimating carbon sequestration potential of planted acres using a forest planning and analytics model with site-specific inputs. Data collected from site monitoring at years one and three after tree planting will assess seedling health and survival rate. With WRI, MSU FCCP will explore innovative methods for continued carbon monitoring using remote sensing and field plot data and will assess how this data can inform state-level inventorying.
FCCP will implement training on carbon storage and management fundamentals, carbon measurements, and emerging carbon incentives programs. To do so, FCCP will design and implement knowledge transfer components to meet educational needs of landowners, assessing effectiveness through awareness and attitude indicators, as well as likelihood to adopt new practices. The program will also implement a “train the trainers” learning session for partners and other key actors.
This investment is made possible by the USDA RCPP, which was authored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. The program was created to assist partnership development between farmers, agriculture stakeholders, academics, and conservation groups to preserve land and water throughout the United States. This project is one of 17 successful Michigan-based projects.