This is the third piece in a series highlighting participating landowners who had planned timber harvests and instead opted not to cut for the next year to enroll in the NCX program. The Natural Capital Exchange was built to offer family forest owners, with properties big and small, anywhere in the contiguous US, an alternative to harvesting their trees to receive payment for the value of their forests beyond timber. Read the first and second posts.
Bruce K. has forestry in his blood. His father graduated from the Yale School of Forestry (now Yale School of the Environment) in 1946 and worked for the American Forestry Association evaluating the effects of World War II on American forests. He settled in upstate New York and eventually bought a forest of his own, over 960 acres spanning six abandoned farms. Bruce and his four siblings eventually inherited this forest from their father.
Bruce became a forester too and manages his family’s property with his siblings. They had multiple timber harvests planned for 2022, including an area of their red pine stand that would yield 200,000 board feet and a sawtimber of white ash and maple. The family opted not to cut the red pine to participate in NCX and instead of cutting both the white ash and maple, they decided to just cut the white ash due to the effects of the emerald ash borer. Bruce notes,
“We would have cut more, but didn’t because of NCX.”
Bruce was aware of other forest carbon programs, but NCX stood out to him for a few reasons. First, because Bruce and his four siblings own their forest together, Bruce acknowledged it is difficult to get consensus from everyone on long term commitments for the land. Many other forest carbon projects have 50-100 year contracts. Bruce knew these terms were long enough that it would be too difficult to get collective buy-in from all five siblings.
Moreover, the siblings plan to pass the property on to the next generation of their family and don’t want to limit their possibilities. Bruce hopes to keep the land as forest in perpetuity, but doesn’t want to enter the property into a program that offers little flexibility to the next generation who will inherit it.
Bruce states, “The flexibility of the short-term NCX contracts is great.” He also shared that he believes in the NCX program’s flexibility beyond just the contract length. Bruce explains that even when forest owners enroll in NCX, they can still practice good forest management.
“NCX does not stop good silviculture practices. Good regeneration is stimulated by thinning. It offers better stockage, growth, and quality, which means we can grow trees that then sequester more carbon.”
Upon hearing about and researching other forest carbon programs, he noticed that many did not allow for any thinning or cutting. As a forester, this didn’t make sense to Bruce. He believes that carbon programs should incentivize better and active forest management.
The forest carbon market is continuing to evolve, and NCX is proud to offer landowners and foresters like Bruce a program that is designed to work for them.