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Maine 2024 - Rehabilitation of Maine's Forests For Climate Resilience

Maine 2024 - Rehabilitation of Maine's Forests For Climate Resilience

Planting Location: Land Owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club in Piscataquis County Maine, in T1R12 in the unorganized territories, north of 2nd Roach Pond.

Project Description/Objective:The goal of this work is to evaluate site preparation treatments and planting as tools for forest rehabilitation in the context of global climate change. We propose planting red spruce (Picea rubens) seedlings on 12 ha of a 16 ha of mixedwood forest. The site was harvested under previous ownership with the assumption natural regeneration would repopulate the area. However, trails within the stand are experiencing regeneration failure. We want to explore reforestation as a tool for climate change mitigation, specifically by increasing carbon sequestration and storage potential. We propose a planting experiment that compares the growth and survival of planted seedlings following two commonly used site preparation treatments. The first treatment is a microsite inversion using an excavator, the second treatment is the reduction of competing vegetation with a bulldozer. After site preparation, we propose planting red spruce. We are focusing our reforestation on red spruce because of the species' ecological and economic importance to the state of Maine. We will plant seedlings on an 8 x 8 ft. spacing.

Ecological Benefits: The northeast United States has largely relied on natural regeneration to populate forests following human or natural disturbances. However, global climate change is altering natural regeneration dynamics. Loss of natural regeneration changes the current makeup of forests and threatens ecological values like forest biodiversity, wildlife habitat, forest health, clean air and water, and climate mitigation. Reforestation through planting is one approach for tackling the shift in historical regeneration patterns. Scientific studies from across the United States and the world show planting of forests that are currently understocked could significantly increase our global carbon sequestration capacity. In Maine, industrial landowners use tree planting to achieve a variety of goals. However, planting by non-industrial landowners is less common, especially planting to rehabilitate understocked forests for ecological values, such as increased carbon storage and sequestration. Red spruce is an ideal species for this climate mitigation work because it is long-lived with the potential to storage carbon for hundreds of years. However, successful establishment and growth of red spruce regeneration is often limited. When red spruce seeds and seedlings attempt to grow on sites with too much light or not enough moisture, regeneration fails. These conditions make way for less ecologically valuable species to grow or, sometimes, no tree regeneration occurs at all. Loss of species diversity in forests dominated by red spruce will have cascading effects on the many birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants that live and use these systems.

Community Benefits: A key component of this work is outreach to and education for small woodland owners. Specifically, those interested in increasing the climate resilience of their woods through forest rehabilitation and planting activities. Currently, small, non-industrial owners hold approximately 40% of Maine’s forestland. These landowners are an important demographic for harnessing Maine forests to fight climate change. To connect with small woodland owners, we will organize and host field tours and other outreach events at our planting site. We will also develop and share written material with local and regional forestry organizations to reach larger networks of small woodland owners. In addition to the benefits for community woodland owners, one Master’s of Science student from the University of Maine will be employed to work on this project.

Types of Trees:Red spruce (Picea rubens), 100%

Number of Trees Donated by Noble Oak: 20,000

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