If you weren’t one of the 80+ people who attended John Scanlon’s presentation on “Carbon, Climate Change, and Species Conservation Efforts by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife,” here’s the recording!

​We appreciate John’s explanation of MassWildlife’s approach to the climate change problem, and its main mission, to protect rare, endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna. Certainly, his presentation was informative, especially in regards to the rationale for prescribed fires and logging to create grassland or wetland habitats that favor certain species.

​During his presentation it was clear that there can be some tension between leaving a forest untouched, to evolve naturally, vs. managing it to support other flora and fauna (birds, insects, shrubs, etc.) What may appear to be naked aggression (cutting and/or burning) at first glance is actually a landscape being managed to create a future desired habitat. Montague Plains is a prime example; see “Birds and the bees thrive at Montague Plains WMA.” John mentioned that his agency hosts walks on certain lands; check out the last slide of his presentation to learn the schedule of upcoming walks/talks in October.

Learning leads to more questions…

Some participants in last week’s Zoom conference challenged the science that says younger trees sequester more or less carbon than mature, old-growth trees. Given that many organizations are advocating for planting more trees, it’s reasonable to ask whether we should cut down any trees at all, for any cause? That’s the crux of the pro-forestation vs. landscape management debate. Which forests should be cut? Where do the logs go, and where should they go? Many — but not all — people agree that biomass fuel is bad for the environment (see MA State Legislature Bill H.4912).​

But what about using wood products for buildings and structures? Maybe… John touched on the subject of using wood products rather than concrete or steel to build things such as bridges, and tall building structures. The rationale is that creating concrete and steel creates more carbon emissions than timbering does, and wood products store carbon. Suffice to say, there’s a LOT of controversy about that, and one could pretty much do a PhD dissertation on that topic.

​Environmental justice

One topic we intend to explore in the future is environmental justice. So, one question to ask ourselves is, do current forestry practices—locally and globally—serve the less powerful, more vulnerable people of the world? Millworkers, lumberjacks, and workers affiliated with the timber and paper industries want jobs, but they also want forests in which to hike, bike, camp, and hunt. Most importantly, everyone, regardless of geographic location, social or economic status, needs clean air, clean water, and a climate that is not dominated by destructive floods, droughts, wildfires and intense storms that threaten life and property. In terms of their importance in storing carbon, forests are second only to the oceans; how we manage forests, on private or public land, matters more than ever.​

The importance of an informed citizenry

Whether you agree, disagree, or are unaware of state or federal actions on our public lands, we need to know the government’s logic and supporting evidence. After all, we can donate to non-profit environmental organizations, but we don’t get to choose whether we pay our taxes, and we have only some influence over where and how our tax dollars are spent. MassWildlife’s budget is a slim piece of the Commonwealth’s pie, so to speak, but it matters. To make better decisions as voters and taxpayers, we need to be informed.

The CounterAct Climate Change Project is proud to facilitate these presentations so we can all learn more, from the comfort of our own homes and computers. Our past three presentations were related to forests and carbon storage; clearly, this is an important topic, with strong opinions, and a lot of scientific data to sort through. There’s more to learn about this and other topics, so stay connected to us!

​You can download this reading list, based on John Scanlon’s references, for further info on climate change, carbon storage, forest management and species protection.​

Meanwhile, here’s a quote that seems fitting: “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” — Aristotle (you know, that philosopher polymath guy from Ancient Greece, who was a student of Plato, 385 – 322 BC)

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