Mark is the strategic leader for TNC’s Maine forest conservation initiatives. overseeing strategy development and TNC’s ongoing work to permanently conserve forests in Maine.
He helps TNC work with many partners to achieve a sustainable forest economy, forest-based climate change solutions, and biodiversity conservation in Maine, and works closely with TNC’s regional and global teams focused on forest conservation and natural climate solutions.
“Maine benefits greatly from its naturally resilient forests, its long legacy of private land stewardship, and a remarkable series of recent conservation accomplishments. Yet Maine’s forests and rural communities face uncertainty, and pressures that are likely to increase. I feel a sense of urgency to keep our forests well-connected so species can move across our landscape, and it’s essential that Maine’s forests contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change by capturing and storing carbon.”
Mark holds a Master of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth College.
His early career included a variety of research, education, and conservation positions, mostly in the northwest U.S., including management of a conservation area in Oregon for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Since his return to Maine in 2006, Mark led Downeast Lakes Land Trust, helping them acquire and manage a 55,000-acre community forest, and then led Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, connecting science, education, and conservation.
Maine's Forests Are a Critical Natural Climate Solution
July 6, 2020
Over the past seven months, I’ve served as one of 27 members of the Natural and Working Lands Working Group of the Maine Climate Council. This June, we presented five recommended climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to the Council, which will now draw on the recommendations from our working group and five others in developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure Maine is more resilient to the impacts of our changing climate.
We know that failure to act will be expensive and devastating to our communities, our economy, and our natural world. Acting boldly, with the best available information, is an opportunity to choose our state’s future. Investing in our forest lands must be a central pillar of those efforts.
An impressive 89 percent of Maine’s land area is forest, making ours the most forested state in the country. Remarkably, all those trees, dead wood and soils hold about 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon. That's as much carbon as could be saved by taking 47 million cars off the road for 25 years.
Admittedly, these big numbers are difficult to relate to. At a more human scale, the carbon in 100 acres of average Maine forest is equal to emissions from 6,500 vehicles driven for one year or the annual energy use of over 3,500 homes.
From commercial timberlands to small woodlots, from land trust properties to Baxter State Park – together, all our forests are net contributors to storing carbon. It’s important to keep all that carbon in the forest and in the soil. But as more land continues to be developed, total forest land is declining in every New England state—including Maine.
Making climate a priority when planning forest management, managing for older forests, and using as much of our harvested wood as possible in long-lived products that won’t release their carbon for decades are all ways Maine’s forest economy can contribute even more to capturing and storing carbon.
Of course, even beyond their climate benefits, forests provide an endless array of invaluable benefits to people and nature alike:
- Forests keep our lakes, streams, and rivers clean and water supplies abundant, reducing flood risks and providing clean water for people and wildlife.
- Large connected forests provide a pathway for wildlife to move as species are pushed by rising temperatures and changing habitat.
- Trees improve our health by purifying the air we breathe, moderating extreme temperatures and providing Mainers with places to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Over $8 billion is spent on outdoor recreation annually in Maine, supporting 76,000 jobs.
- With an annual harvest of 13 million tons of wood, and an estimated economic impact of $8.5 billion, the timber industry provided over 33,000 jobs in 2016.
- Forest conservation pays. With every $1 invested in land conservation through the Land for Maine’s Future Program, $11 in natural goods and services is returned to the Maine economy.
It is critical that we keep Maine's forests as forests. Whether it's public or private conservation land, small woodlots, or sustainably harvested timberlands, our forests are a priceless resource and a front-line tool against the effects of climate change.
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