by Barbara Walvoord
(First published in Lathrop Lamp Post December 8, 2016)
My granddaughter Lauren Warner enjoyed our north campus forest one day last winter. But our forests are not just wonderful places to walk and play. They help fight global climate change by storing carbon.
Our Lathrop forest is part of the so-called “midlatitude forests” stretching from the Carolinas up into New England, Canada, and the Midwest. The past few years of carbon monitoring at the Harvard Forest have shown that these forests are reducing the global increase in carbon by more than 10 percent.Lathrop’s forests, like many in the midlatitude, don’t hold as much carbon as, say, the Amazon, because our forests are younger. But on the other hand, our forests do not have large numbers of dead trees releasing their stored carbon back into the air. When you balance out the carbon taken in and released, the Northeast forest retains two to four tons of carbon per hectare every year.
In the East, in fact, as forests hold more and more carbon, the rate of new carbon storage uptake is surpassing the Amazon’s. Says the New York Times, “Suddenly, with this new discovery from the Harvard Forest research, the forest of the East, back from devastation, is a big and important player in global carbon storage.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/magazine/19Forest-t.html?_r=0)