In summer 2021, New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) ran a climate solutions special issue of its newsletter, Into the Woods. The issue’s introduction and four articles are closely tied together, and so have been posted online as a single series of blog posts. Here are links to the series:
Post 1 (this post), Climate Solutions: Introduction | Post 2, Climate Solutions: Climate, NEFF and the Next Five Years | Post 3, Climate Solutions: A New Climate Wedge | Post 4, Climate Solutions: Pioneering Climate-smart Exemplary Forestry in New England | Post 5, Climate Solutions: Putting New England’s Woods to Work
Dear Members and Friends,
The Boston Celtics have a player they call the Time Lord because of his special relationship to his alarm clock. The nickname ultimately derives from the cult British television series Doctor Who, in which Time Lords are aliens who have cultivated the ability to travel backwards and forwards in time, and use that ability to gather knowledge and care for others.
Foresters are like Time Lords; they need to see the forest as it was a long time ago and imagine what it will be like in the distant future if they apply their management skills. They serve as custodians who aim to ensure that forests provide services to landowners and society.
Out at the New England Forestry Foundation home campus in Littleton, Massachusetts, we installed a forestry learning tool called a Marteloscope at the top of the hill. It’s not a device, although it sounds like it. We simply measured and tagged every tree in a two-acre section and entered the data into our computer so we can use software to predict how the future forest would change if we harvested this tree or that tree or left them to grow. We’ve had veteran foresters and unskilled college students take the Marteloscope challenge and make their own choices. Then we run their selections through our software program and give them an idea of how the forest would change.
I like to watch the foresters’ eyes when they are contemplating their choices. I can tell they are seeing something that isn’t there; the foresters are time traveling. They see the stone walls and know this section was a pasture at one time. They are calculating how fast the understory white pine can grow and what the forest will look like in 50 years if they remove some of the overstory oaks right now.
I try to teach the college students how to be Time Lords too. I show them a picture book of Littleton historical photographs. One shot is from the Prouty Woods hill where the Marteloscope is installed. There are pastures, long views into the distance toward Boston, and a cow is grazing right where the students are standing under towering pine trees. This picture equips them to start time traveling like a forester.
As we move deeper into a global climate emergency, we all must become Time Lords and envision how our forests can help in the next critical 30 years and beyond; how will our forestry choices today impact the ability of future generations to work with the climate they receive? This special issue of Into the Woods presents the results of NEFF’s own forestry time traveling. You’ll read about a new set of Exemplary Forestry standards aimed at the smaller forest parcels of family forest owners in southern New England, the impact of our Acadian Exemplary Forestry standards, and a new investment fund that will access private equity to compete for the huge land transactions up north while using NEFF’s Exemplary Forestry to transform the future forest. Most importantly, this issue reveals NEFF’s 30 percent solution—our multi-faceted approach that can provide 30 percent of the needed reduction in carbon emissions for the region over the next 30 years.
Finding Hope in Climate Solutions
A message from Tinsley Hunsdorfer, NEFF Communications Manager
The last time you read a newsletter message from me was exactly a year ago, when in the summer 2020 issue of Into the Woods, I explained how supporters and friends of New England Forestry Foundation could stay connected with us during the pandemic. Twelve months later, what I wrote at the end of that message still holds true: you are in my thoughts, and the thoughts of all of us at NEFF.
While the United States is making real progress with vaccinations, this nation isn’t out of the COVID-19 woods yet, and most other countries aren’t faring as well. This lingering pandemic uncertainty interacts with grief from pandemic losses and any number of other critical, painful societal issues to leave people feeling bleak. Given these circumstances, you may be wondering if this is the right moment for NEFF to publish an entire newsletter issue dedicated to climate change, a topic that often proves heartbreaking.
Never fear: this issue is all about NEFF’s well-researched climate solutions and their projected impacts. We have good and exciting news to share, news that may even leave you feeling hopeful.
NEFF recently created an Exemplary Forestry Center that brings together our initiatives and partnerships with ties to Exemplary Forestry—NEFF’s most powerful climate-mitigation tool—to tackle ambitious new goals and projects, all with the aim of solving the climate crisis. The Center will build on our activities and expertise in forest science, outreach and coalition building, policy, communications, and innovative conservation finance programs; in the last few months, the Center has received major grants from individuals and foundations that are already helping us expand our work, and we expect more growth as fundraising and strategic planning proceed.
Every day, NEFF’s creative and dedicated Exemplary Forestry Center staff members put everything they’ve got into NEFF’s climate mitigation strategies and programs—not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because we know that once implemented, they’re going to work. Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to work for New England Forestry Foundation at a time when we are poised to make a real, measurable impact on the climate crisis. Our thanks to the donors, supporters and partners who have gotten us this far, and to everyone who will join us in the months and years to come.