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UPS Field Trip: Learning about Climate Change in the Forests of Quebec
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Memories of the forest….

….. falling asleep in a bed of soft pine needles under the sinking sun

….. trekking gorillas in the highlands of Uganda

….. awestruck at the majesty of the mighty California redwoods

….. swinging on vines as a kid in the Maryland woods near home

These personal reflections were the beginning of a two-day workshop about the universal appeal of nature, conservation and the power of the world’s forests to combat climate change. UPS sponsored the event that included employees, customers and three non-profit organizations.

The workshop, conducted by the environmental research group Earthwatch Institute, gave participants the opportunity to learn about the science of climate change, to experience field research, and to share best practices about how corporations can help mitigate their environmental impact by supporting forestry projects. Participants met at the Gault Nature Reserve in Mont-Saint-Hilaire Quebec.

“As an energy-intensive industry, we at UPS want to be part of the solution,” said UPS sustainability director Steve Leffin. UPSers pledged to go back to their operations and share information about how forests store carbon, how the company is working to mitigate its carbon production, and how conservation efforts can help alleviate the impact of climate change.

“Our goal is to inspire confident ambassadors who are passionate about supporting climate awareness in their organizations and communicating it to others,” said Ed Barker, Earthwatch director of corporate partnerships.

Carbon dioxide, produced by fossil fuel emissions and by nature, is one of the major greenhouse gases that is considered a major contributor to the warming of the planet, reported Dr. Mark Chandler, international head of research for Earthwatch Institute. Using scientific data, he showed the quantitative evidence that the planet’s climate is shifting.

Dr. Martin Lechowicz, director of the Gault Nature Reserve and McGill University professor, taught the group about the forests of the reserve and how different tree species can store carbon, mitigating climate change.

The group then was dispatched into the rocky hillsides to measure the trees of the forest so that carbon storage could be calculated. In quadrants defined by earlier researchers, participants were asked to “hug” the trees with tape measures and record the diameters. “Now, I have a different idea of what tree hugging really means,” said UPSer Suzan Sherburn. Dr. Lechowicz then translated the data into the amount of carbon stored by tree species.

Later, teams planted trees along the banks of the lake, created by a glacier thousands of years ago. Along the way, participants witnessed a snapping turtle laying eggs, an owl calling to a mate at dusk, muskrats and beavers on the lake banks, and a snake along the path.

Mary Lim Ormiston, a UPS solutions manager in Canada, said the trip has inspired her to share the experience with her colleagues. “Going in, I had very little knowledge about sustainability. Now I have a good understanding of what we are doing as a company and what we can do as individuals. I now have the ability to talk about climate change – from a simple tree to the impact it has on the environment.”

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Category: Global Impact, Sustainability
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    Comments [1]

  1. Thank you for supporting such event to raise awareness of climate change. Hope more and more corporations will support similar forestry project in the future. :)

    Cheers,
    Janice
    Webmaster of Dirt Bikes for Kids

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