Forests cover 89 percent of Maine and are the foundation for Maine’s forest products industry and the state’s overall natural resource-based economy. Each year, Maine's forests sequester an amount of carbon equal to at least 60 percent of the state's annual carbon emissions, a figure that rises to 75 percent when durable forest products are included. The Forest Carbon Task Force work seeks to build upon this effort.
Created by Executive Order of Governor Janet Mills, the Forest Carbon Task Force was recommended by the state’s new four-year climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait, and aims to develop a voluntary program for small-to-medium size woodland owners in Maine who want to utilize their land for long-term storage of carbon emissions, a process known as carbon sequestration.
Forest carbon programs provide financial incentives to preserve forests, thereby storing carbon emissions. However, today, most existing programs are not accessible or economically feasible for smaller woodland owners.
Unlocking the powerful carbon-storage potential of forested lands means designing a forest carbon program that helps reduce the loss of natural and working lands to development, which is now estimated at 10,000 acres annually and rising.
To recommend a comprehensive plan and framework for woodland owners to manage their land for carbon storage, carbon sequestration, or both, the Task Force will:
- Review available data for practice-based carbon programs throughout the United States
- Review current harvest levels and carbon stocking data on woodland owners of 10 to 10,000 acres;
- Identify a suite of climate-friendly forest management practices that improve carbon stocks and maintain current timber harvest levels;
- Identify a suite of financial incentives and technical assistance activities to increase carbon sequestration on woodland owners of 10 to 10,000 acres and carbon sinking in wood products through active forest management;
- Identify incentives for high-quality, on-the-ground performance by loggers and promote the use of low-impact harvesting equipment;
- Recommend updates to the Open Space Current Use Taxation program including in a manner that incentivizes climate-friendly land management practices;
- Explore opportunities for partnerships with large, commercial forestland owners;
- Consider opportunities for Maine to participate in multi-state forest carbon initiatives;
- Recommend the numeric goal or targets for increased carbon sequestration in Maine over time.
The Task Force consists of the following thirteen members appointed by the Governor. The co-chairs are Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and Tom Abello, Legislative Director for Governor Mills.
The Task Force members are:
- Mark Berry, The Nature Conservancy
- Barrie Brusilla, Mid-Maine Forestry
- Adam Daigneault, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine
- Tom Doak, Maine Woodland Owners
- Dana Doran, Professional Logging Contractors of Maine
- Ivan Fernandez, Climate Change Institute and School of Forest Resources, University of Maine
- Alec Giffen, New England Forestry Foundation
- Stacy Knapp, Maine Department of Environmental Protection
- Donald Mansius, Maine Forest Service, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
- Ryan Robicheau, Maine Department of Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife
- Melissa Shea, The Mountain Farm
- Patrick Strauch, Maine Forest Products Council
- Karen Tilberg, Forest Society of Maine
The Task Force recommendations are required to be submitted to the Governor on or before September 1, 2021.
For more information about the Task Force, to register to observe its meetings, please contact Tom Gordon at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.