A national conservation group has set up an $18 million fund to conserve forest in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, among other states, as a way to fight climate change.
That money will go toward providing grants to local conservation projects in the Upper Valley, Monadnock Region and the northern part of the state, which are all part of the Northern Appalachians, a focus area of the Open Space Institute’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund.
The group seeks to conserve 50,000 acres along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, which contain the world’s largest broadleaf forest.
Jennifer Melville is the vice president for conservation grants at the Open Space Institute. She says that the organization identified three regions in the Appalachian Mountains for their intact habitat and carbon storage capacity.
Melville says uninterrupted forest in the Upper Valley in New Hampshire is a key connecting link for wildlife that are moving north, as the climate changes.
“If you try to think about each individual species it’s complicated, but you can think about groups of species like songbirds, and migratory birds, and our big mammals, where are they going to be able to survive?” she said.
Melville says that another goal is to conserve forest so that they can continue capturing carbon.
“New Hampshire’s forests, if they’re managed well, allowed to grow into bigger trees, more diverse forests can take up even more carbon in the atmosphere, and northern New England can play a bigger role, regionally, nationally, even globally, in helping offset climate emissions,” Melville said.
David Patrick, the conservation director at New Hampshire’s Nature Conservancy, says his group plans on applying to the fund.
“I can see it really leading to a significant uptick in our land conservation efforts moving forward,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really noticeable; I think we’ll have much more of an opportunity to do more than we’ve been able to do in the past.”
He says that he hopes that money can go toward conserving big patches of forest, and more expensive land that’s possibly being looked at for development.
“For example, places where we may only have one remaining connector across a landscape, it’s going to cost us more per acre to work in those places than in a larger forested landscape,” Patrick said.
The Open Space Institute hopes to conserve at least 10,000 acres of land in Northern New England through this fund.