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Identifying trade‐offs and opportunities for forest carbon and wildlife using a climate change adaptation lens

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 | 4:00 pm
Caitlin Littlefield
Conservation Science Partners
John Scanlon
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation


The critical role that forests play as a natural climate solution (NCS) is now widely accepted. Fortunately, many restoration and forest management strategies that seek to enhance carbon storage also benefit wildlife species for which more carbon directly corresponds with habitat needs. However, many other, often imperiled species rely on habitat conditions that inherently store less carbon -- for example, globally rare pitch pine barrens.

This potential trade-off between maximizing carbon storage and meeting unique habitat needs is often overlooked—in forest carbon offset protocols, in replanting and reforestation initiatives, and, more generally, in mounting public pressure to cease all forest management under the mistaken impression that harvesting renewable wood products will compromise carbon storage. This leaves us on management trajectories that may maximize carbon storage in some contexts, but that may ultimately undermine the restoration and maintenance of critical habitat conditions that many species of conservation need rely upon.

In this webinar, we will suggest that the lens of climate change adaptation may help us to navigate these potential trade-offs, and put us on a path towards jointly achieving wildlife habitat goals and increasing the resilience of our forests and carbon stores in an era of unprecedented change, using pitch pine barrens as a case study.

About the Speakers

Lead Scientist with Conservation Science Partners and a former NE CASC Fellow, Caitlin Littlefield is a broadly trained landscape ecologist working at the intersection of forest ecology, conservation biology, and climate adaptation science. She links field data, climate data, and landscape models to understand how forests and the species therein are responding to global change and to identify strategies for supporting these systems in an uncertain future.

John Scanlon is both a Certified Forester through the Society of American Foresters and a Certified Wildlife Biologist through The Wildlife Society. He is currently working on a short-term contract for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation after retiring from a 35-year-long career with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) as their Habitat Program Supervisor. John holds a passion for providing needed habitat diversity through sustainable forest management across both public and private lands.