FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jack Savage, VP for Communications & Outreach
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 330;
CLIMATE CHANGE TOP OF MIND FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENTS
Climate Change & Working Forests Conference Sells Out
CONCORD, N.H., Feb. 16, 2007—More than 200 participants, from leading researchers, foresters, loggers, conservationists, timberland owners, policy makers, and concerned citizens will be attending the one-day conference on Climate Change & Working Forests, presented by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and Clean Air-Cool Planet on March 1. 2007. “The time to engage the issue of climate change is now,” states Jane Difley, president and forester of the Forest Society. “The overwhelming response to the conference is a clear indication that climate change is a topic of intense interest and concern among those whose recognize the extent to which we all depend on the forest for our quality of life in northern New England.”
The Conference takes place at a time of mounting international concern over the speed and magnitude of global climate change and its likely economic, social, and environmental impacts. Topics to be discussed at the conference will include a global overview of climate change from a scientific perspective; explore the nature and likely impacts of climate change on New Hampshire forests; the opportunities for new fuels and new products; and the options for accelerated action by governments, business, and our local community.
New Hampshire has a long history of logging, forest management, lumber production, and paper mills, contributing significantly to the economy of the state. Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on the state’s forests and forest industry. “We don’t know the full impact of climate change on New Hampshire’s forests,” states Eric Kingsley, founder of Innovative Natural Resource Solutions. “We do know climate change will affect New Hampshire’s forests in a number of ways that aren’t good. The most prominent change will be in a change in species type, from a mix of maple-beech-birch (northern hardwood) to an oak-hickory mix forest.”
The New Hampshire forest industry has been built around a northern hardwood forest. From timber production to tourism, northern hardwoods provide a high-return on timber yield and provide for the foundation of New Hampshire’s tourism—the beautiful reds and golds of the foliage season. “Some experts predict New Hampshire will look more like Virginia in 100 years, the timing of this is debated, but most experts confirm our forests will be predominately oak and hickory,” states Kingsley. From the affect on the maple syrup industry, a part of our social fabric, to a change in wildlife habitat the social and biological impacts of climate change are significant.
The economic impact is even more significant. There is a lumber market for oak and hickory, but the monetary value is not as robust as hardwood. Landowners, loggers, foresters, mills and others have built their businesses on a species of northern hardwoods.
Longer mud seasons will also have an economic impact on the industry. In part due to climate change and weather patterns and in part an increased sensitivity on the impact of machinery on the forest floor. Longer mud seasons cut back on the volume of wood coming out of the forests, resulting in less stumpage fees to New Hampshire landowners.
In addition to the significant negative impact of climate change, the New Hampshire forest industry could play a leading role in reducing CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. Biomass energy is already contributing to emissions mitigation. “New ways of thinking about, talking about, and acting on climate change are necessary if a changing society is to adapt to a changing climate," adds Kingsley. “We need to start thinking about how to manage this transistion.”
A lot of research and emerging technologies are being explored. As the economics of oil get more difficult, fuel substitutions, such as ethanol, wood-fired electricity, and wind power all present opportunites. For example, Concord, New Hampshire’s capital complex runs on a wood-fired system, proving that wood is a viable fuel source for small schools, office complexes, and municipalities.
With the likelihood of a recent and growing human influence on climate, it is vital for society to be equipped with the best possible knowledge of climate variability and change so that we may exercise responsible stewardship for the environment, lessen the potential for negative climate impacts, and take advantage of positive opportunities where they exist.
“We can wait for climate change policy to come to us with consequences outside of our control, or we can actively engage the issue with far more manageable and potentially beneficial results for New Hampshire,” states Kingsley. “The choice is up to us.”