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Banking on Trees
Garcia River Forest

I’m a numbers guy living in the heart of San Francisco. I am a scientist and an analyst, managing an asset valued at more than $100 million. But I’m not your typical investment banker. I’m part of a team of carbon bankers at The Conservation Fund—conserving forests to help trap or “bank” carbon dioxide to help address climate change.  In short, I help measure, monitor and model tree growth so that we can trap more carbon dioxide in our forests, provide habitat for fish and wildlife and jobs for the local timber economy.

Trees are nature’s sponges. They act as reservoirs for water, helping to keep the soil in place by preventing erosion and filtering sediment, which means cleaner water for fish as well as people downstream. They act as the lungs of the earth, sucking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in their branches, trunks and leaves. They release oxygen, which of course we need to breathe, and they provide important habitat for all sorts of species, including endangered fish who nestle in stream pockets of deep, slow moving waters made cooler by fallen tree trunks. They also provide timber to build the places we call home. In the U.S. alone, the forest products industry supports more than 900,000 jobs.

Garcia River ForestAt The Conservation Fund, we own and manage about 54,000 acres of working forest in California. Our strategy balances restoration and stewardship with an eye toward sustaining the local timber economy. We understand that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. In Northern California—home to the northern spotted owl and several other endangered species—that’s a delicate balance.

Across the most ecologically sensitive areas of the forests we own, harvests are restricted, and our foresters meet with biologists to survey forest stands for spotted owl (last year, our trees maintained 34 owl activity centers) and streams for coho salmon and steelhead trout. In 2012, our forests generated more than 960,000 metric tons of CO2 reductions and contributed $4.5 million to the local economy.

UPS and its customers play an important role in protecting these lands. Our Garcia River Forest is one of the first projects to benefit from the UPS carbon neutral program. While the cost of offsetting every single package is relatively modest, it has an immediate and lasting benefit on wildlife, fish and our climate. It’s a small change every participating UPS customer can be proud of. As any good banker will tell you, it all adds up.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Garcia River Forest.

Category: Environment
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