Opening the door to Local Forest Conservation for Skiers
According to the Green Mountain Audubon Society, Vermont’s forests are among the world’s most diverse and productive breeding grounds for migratory birds, and several species on its Watchlist (such as the Wood Thrush and Canada Warbler) rely on the state’s forests for survival. Forest-based carbon offset projects—which provide payments to forest landowners for securing carbon dioxide by planting trees, using improved forest management techniques, and avoiding development—can offer a powerful incentive to landowners to leave these important natural areas intact.
As Founder and Managing Partner of Conservation Collaboratives (which owns and manages more than 1,000 acres of forestland in Northeast Vermont), and before that at Conservation International and the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business in Washington, DC, much of Laury Saligman’s work has revolved around conservation incentives. Her TogetherGreen fellowship enabled her to apply them in a new way: by creating a pilot program to sell locally generated forest-based carbon offsets to skiers to neutralize travel-related carbon emissions.
Laurie described her initial motivation, explaining that “Although some skiers are active conservationists and grasp the connection between skiing and the forested landscape, many others do not,” she added. “My conservation vision is that all citizens understand the connection between themselves and the natural world, and based on this comprehension, act as dedicated environmental stewards. My project creates the mechanism to enable this change to occur.”
For Laury’s TogetherGreen fellowship project, the Clean Water Carbon Fund, she worked in partnership with colleagues at the Northern Forest Center, University of Vermont, and Moanmet Center for Conservation Sciences to create a pilot program for ski areas to offer their guests the option to reduce travel-related carbon emissions. She aimed to provide a venue for guests to donate money towards planting trees in riparian buffers. She contacted eight ski locations and 17 hotels and conference centers at the beginning of her project and successfully secured one resort who will be piloting the program this November. There are many more locations who are interested in implementing her program in the upcoming years.
She also worked with Northwoods Stewardship Center on creating and delivering a ½ day activity for the kids at Jay Peak summer camp this past summer. She worked with camp counselors and about 20 children for a morning session, for five weeks, engaging the children in conservation, educate them through hands-on learning, and ignite their enthusiasm so that they “infect” their families with it as well.