Thursday, September 10, 2020

Forest Inventory and Analysis

State-by-State Forest Fact Sheets


The USDA Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program continually produces vast amounts of data on the extent, conditions, trends, and ownership status of the forest resources of the United States. The program supplies annual updates that provide a brief overview of forest resources in each state based on an inventory conducted by the FIA program in cooperation with each State forestry agency. Now you can easily access some of this information through an interactive website that offers fact Sheets for each state.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

What is a Carbon Neutral Fuel?

Introduction:

At the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show the Hardwoods Development Council (HDC) hosted the Pennsylvania Hardwoods exhibit. The exhibit’s theme was Imagine the Opportunities of a Smaller Carbon Footprint. The exhibit was made possible by a collaboration between the HDC and the three Pennsylvania Hardwood Utilization Groups (HUGs): Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group, Keystone Wood Products Association, and the Northern Tier Hardwood Association.

The Hardwoods exhibit featured seven educational displays, all pertaining to how implementing sustainable forestry practices and the use of hardwood products can help reduce one’s carbon footprint. This is the third in a series of seven articles. These articles will provide information pertaining to each of the seven themes that were displayed. One article will be provided monthly.

Article 3: What is a Carbon Neutral Fuel?

By Jonathan Geyer and Dave Jackson

A carbon neutral fuel is one that does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) cycling through the atmosphere. For example, burning wood is considered carbon neutral. When burned, it does not increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is because the forest carbon cycle is a closed loop system (Figure 1). As trees grow, they photosynthesize, taking in carbon dioxide, converting the carbon into woody biomass and releasing the oxygen. Removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it is known as carbon sequestration. The carbon stored in wood is released back into the atmosphere when the wood is combusted. However, new carbon is sequestered by other trees as they grow, and the cycle continues.

Figure 1: When wood is combusted, carbon is released as carbon dioxide. It is then sequestered again by other trees as they grow.


Wood-based fuel like firewood and wood pellets release a minimal amount of carbon into the atmosphere compared to coal, oil, and natural gas. When fossil fuels are combusted enormous volumes of CO2 are released into the atmosphere, more than what trees can sequester. Fossil fuel combustion leads to large increases in the amount CO2 cycling through the atmosphere (Figure 2). Trees need CO2 to make food, however, too much CO2 in the atmosphere can lead to what we now call global climate change.

Figure 2: In 2018, power plants that burned coal, natural gas, and petroleum fuels were the source of about 63% of total U.S. electricity generation, but they accounted for 99% of U.S. electricity-related CO2 emissions. Electricity generation from biomass, hydro, solar, and wind are virtually carbon neutral. (Source: U.S. Energy Administration)

Trees are a renewable natural resource which means they will naturally regrow or be replaced within a person’s lifespan. For many years Pennsylvania’s forests have been growing more wood volume than is being harvested. A sustainably managed hardwood forest in Pennsylvania can be completely harvested and replaced on average every 80 years. At the opposite end of the spectrum are fossil fuels, such as coal, gas, and oil. They are nonrenewable natural resources. They cannot be readily replaced and will eventually be completely used up.

Carbon neutral fuels, like firewood and wood pellets, neither contribute to nor reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Using carbon neutral fuels can help prevent this from happening. The carbon released from burning firewood or pellets is absorbed by the subsequent crop of new trees, which will grow to be the next source of carbon-neutral fuel……and the cycle continues.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Announcing New Invasive Plant Fact Sheets Series

BELLEFONTE, Pa. – With recent efforts to combat the threat of invasive plants in woodlands, Penn State Extension has released new resources to help with identification and control. A total of 14 invasive plant fact sheets are now up on the Penn State Extension web site. Art Gover, Penn State Wildland Weed Management Specialist, David Jackson, and Sarah Wurzbacher both Penn State Forest Resources Educators, and Sky Templeton, graduate of the Penn State Forest Biology program prepared the fact sheet.

The term “invasive” is used to describe a plant which grows rapidly, spreads aggressively, and displaces other native plants. They are non-native to the area but have naturalized and negatively affect the ecosystem they inhabit. Invasive plants degrade native environments by causing a decline in native plant species diversity. They degrade wildlife habitats for native insects, birds, and other wildlife and threaten rare species. In addition, invasive plants have been shown to inhibit forest regeneration success and slow or halt natural succession. Once well established, invasive plants require large amounts of time, labor, and money to control or eradicate.

Each four-page fact sheet provides in-depth practical information to help landowners and natural resource professionals identify and treat invasive plants commonly found in fields, forests, and other natural areas. The fact sheets provide full-color images and descriptions to assist with identification, as well as information on native look-alikes, dispersal, site, and control, including a management calendar and treatment and timing table.

Species described in the series include tree-of-heaven, Callery pear, common and glossy buckthorn, Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, shrub honeysuckles, autumn olive, privet, burning bush, Oriental bittersweet, Japanese knotweed, mile-a-minute vine, Japanese stiltgrass, and garlic mustard. Jackson states, “It is our hope that once landowners and managers learn to identify these common invasive plants, they will begin to implement control measures to help prevent further spread and habitat degradation.”

These fact sheets will help you properly identify many of the most problematic woodland invasive plants. They can all be found by typing the plant name in the search bar on the Penn State Extension web site. Each is available as a free downloadable PDF; printed copies are available for purchase. Visit: https://extension.psu.edu/forests-and-wildlife/forest-management/invasive-and-competing-plants 

Friday, July 31, 2020

New Carbon Program for Pennsylvania Landowners is Expanding!

Have you heard about the new opportunity for landowners to receive funding and expert assistance to help you keep your woods healthy?  The Family Forest Carbon Program pays woodland owners like you to carry out specific activities on your land that enhance wildlife habitat and water quality, while also increasing the carbon stored on the landscape.  Visit www.familyforestcarbon.org to learn more about the program and check your eligibility.  The program is expanding and is now available in 16 counties in Northern and Central Pennsylvania:

The Family Forest Carbon Program, developed in partnership between the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, aims to support landowners in forest stewardship by providing funding to complete activities that improve overall woodland health.  Currently funding is provided for two different activities:

·    1. Letting your trees grow large for 20 years by limiting timber harvests.

·    2. Funding to remove invasive or other competing plants after a regeneration harvest.

Meet Susan, a landowner from Pennsylvania, and hear her story about her family’s land and the challenges she faces to caring for it. Families and individuals like Susan, own the largest portion of forests in the U.S. and provide a significant opportunity to reduce the carbon in our atmosphere through their forests. While these forest owners want to help the environment, they often face barriers when it comes to caring for their land.

The Family Forest Carbon Program, a new program from the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy – by providing landowners a way to generate income from their land, while helping to address climate change through carbon sequestration.

Watch her video here: https://vimeo.com/409898117 

To find out if you are eligible, visit the Family Forest Carbon Program at www.familyforestcarbon.org.  You can use the secure, online tool called WoodsCamp to find your parcel on a map and the request a report to learn more about the opportunities for which you may qualify, including the Family Forest Carbon Program.