Natural climate solutions are those conservation, restoration and land management actions that increase carbon storage or prevent greenhouse gas emissions in landscapes and wetlands. At Audubon South Carolina, we not only advocate for policies that promote natural climate solutions, but we actively employ these strategies on the lands that we own and manage.
In addition to being good practice for those in the forestry business, proper forest management can also prevent wildfires, promote healthy bird habitat and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As it happens, working lands—or forest, ranch and farm lands that are actively managed to produce timber and or agricultural products—also represent one of the best hopes for conservation. These parcels of forests, ranches, and farms add up to roughly a billion acres—or about half the land in the entire lower 48 states—have the potential to pull billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year and store it in soil and biomass.
Reducing carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions is key to mitigating extreme weather events and preventing other harmful climate impacts that threaten our livelihoods and communities. Through policy efforts, strategic land management on our own properties, and landowner outreach, Audubon South Carolina and its partners are taking steps to both strengthen rural and urban economies and protect our natural resources.
Here’s a quick look at how Audubon South Carolina is approaching this important challenge—and opportunity.
We own and actively manage more than 22,000 acres of land with climate and bird-friendly practices.
Our efforts aim to keep existing forests forested, to harvest trees in a manner that increases carbon sequestration through improved growth rates, and to restore lands to their historical, naturally-occurring forest type based on the best available science. We also use the land we manage as demonstration sites for innovative techniques for increasing carbon storage and improved forest management practices.
With these goals in mind, our land acquisitions in South Carolina have focused on protecting the Four-Holes Swamp watershed within Berkeley, Dorchester and Orangeburg Counties. We also own and manage property along the Savannah, Edisto and Congaree rivers—riparian corridors with immense value for South Carolina’s migrating and breeding birds, and for the clean water, flood storage and climate resiliency of the surrounding communities.
We own and operate an active carbon sequestration bank and a wetland mitigation bank, helping reduce climate and development impacts while funding further forest restoration and management efforts.
Designated as a Climate Action Reserve Carbon Bank and selling credits on the California market, 5,500 hundred acres of Audubon’s Francis Beidler Forest Center and Sanctuary is currently storing 1.3 million tons of carbon. At an average of 4.7 tons per vehicle per year, that is equivalent to removing 280,000 cars from the road for a year.
At our Spring Branch mitigation bank site, 600 acres of former industrial forestland is being restored to its historic bottomland hardwood forest composition, while its credit sales help to mitigate wetland impacts in the Four-Holes/Edisto River watershed and support Audubon’s future land acquisitions and protection.
We are reaching out to thousands of landowners across South Carolina to implement climate and bird-friendly forest management practices.
Thanks to a generous grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Audubon South Carolina and strategic state, federal, and non-profit partners are conducting outreach to 15,000 private landowners in the seven-county Pee Dee region of South Carolina to provide education and support for forest and wildlife management, forest certification, cost-share programs, and conservation easements, with an emphasis on Longleaf Pine restoration and improved management of bottomland hardwood forests.
Because we are forest landowners, we recognize the myriad pressures facing landowners when it comes to realizing maximum benefit from their forestland. It is far more expensive to restore forests than it is to maintain them, and oftentimes the impact of the loss can’t be fixed, which is why connecting landowners with the tools and resources they need to keep their forestland forested is the smartest use of time and money. We have experience using cost-share programs, practicing forest restoration and managing bottomlands as a landowner and can speak to other landowners from our own experiences.