Maine Forests: A Natural Climate Solution

Some climate solutions are simpler than we imagine. For example, keeping forests as forests! Last month, we welcomed Karin Tilberg, President and CEO of the Forest Society of Maine, to learn about the powerful role of Maine’s forests in mitigating climate change.

Trees sequester carbon dioxide, storing carbon in their wood and in the forest soil. The term ‘carbon sequestration’ refers to the process of taking up carbon and storing it — in this case, by trees. This prevents carbon gasses from moving up into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

Photo credit: Jake Metzler

A key aspect in Maine achieving carbon neutrality by 2045? Maintaining our forests! Currently, Maine loses 10,000 acres of natural lands every year. That number is expected to increase as Maine becomes increasingly attractive in a warming world. Data on real estate transactions shows that development pressure around the edges of forested landscapes and in gateway communities to the North Woods is growing.

Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s climate action plan, aspires to increase the amount of conserved land in the state to 30% by 2030 (referred to as 30 by 30). In 2022, Maine was at 22%. Around 50,000 acres were conserved annually in 2021 and 2022, but we need to accelerate the rate of conservation to achieve 30% by 2030.

Efforts are underway to develop programs to incentivize timber management practices that increase carbon storage, especially by small woodlot owners. Maine has a lot of small woodlot owners, especially in the southern half of the state. The goal is to prevent conversion of forestland to other uses by making forest management for carbon sequestration accessible and cost-effective.

To learn more about carbon sequestration, carbon off-set programs, and more, we encourage you to watch the recorded webinar ‘Maine Forests: A Natural Climate Solution’ with Karin Tilberg.

For more information about carbon sequestration, see the Maine Forest Carbon Task Force Report and Healthy Forests for our Future.

The Forest Society of Maine (FSM) is a statewide land trust established in 1984 to conserve Maine’s forestlands to sustain the economic, ecological, cultural and recreational values of the Maine Woods. It has conserved over one million acres of forestland — most located in the uniquely intact forested landscape of Maine’s North Woods. Conservation easements are FSM’s primary conservation tool.

This webinar was part of the monthly CREA speaker series.

Karin Tilberg President/CEO of The Forest Society of Maine (Photo Credit: The Forest Society of Maine)

What to Know About our New Strategic Plan 2023-2027

Recently the BTLT Board of Directors adopted a new Five-year Strategic Plan that aims to advance the mission of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust by setting new, vital strategic goals for our programs, enhancing organizational effectiveness and efficiency, and bringing financial sustainability to a new level.  

This plan builds on major accomplishments under our previous Strategic Plan: obtaining valuable feedback from a wide-ranging community survey to help shape future priorities, expanding programs and staff capacity driven by a significant growth in membership and Annual Fund, and strengthening stewardship sustainability by nearly reaching our goal of a two-million dollar endowment fund through Board designations of special donations and bequests. It also reflects our deepened commitment to the inter-related importance of enhancing ecological and community resiliency through conservation and support for local farms, fisheries and sustainable forestry, as well as community engagement and education.  

By their very nature, strategic plans need to be adaptable to changing circumstances. The COVID pandemic was a prime example, requiring reorientation of our core programs for stewardship and community engagement to protect staff and public safety, while encouraging well-managed outdoor activities including our Farmers’ Market, community gardens and access to trails. It also required adroit adjustments in financial management and fundraising. Our success in navigating these challenges and lessons learned have also contributed to shaping the new strategic plan.

Over the past year the BTLT Board and staff held a series of facilitated retreat meetings by Zoom to discuss the challenges and opportunities in our various programs and organizational development. This informed consideration of goals and priorities in all of these areas have been incorporated into the plan.  

The plan also, for the first time, includes statements of core values to guide the work of the Land Trust. These represent an articulation of how the culture of BTLT has evolved in recent years that we felt should be codified going forward. These cover:

  • Collaboration and Cooperation.
  • Effectiveness and Efficiency.
  • Excellence and Integrity.
  • Inclusion and Equity.
  • Financial Responsibility.
  • Innovation.
  • Perseverance.

The plan remains firmly rooted in our core mission of conservation and stewardship and deep commitment to our most established and beloved programs – the Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and of course our trail network. At the same time, we are rising to new challenges and seeking higher levels of engagement with the full range of people in our community through partnerships like the New Mainers Garden, Mowitanij Epijij (Wabanaki garden), trail accessibility initiatives, LGBTQIA+ walks, and more.

The Core Directions that are set forth in the new strategic plan are to: 

  • Energetically pursue new lands conservation projects.
  • Increase stewardship capacity further to support new land conservation and ongoing required stewardship. 
  • Expand youth education through increased integration with the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA).
  • Integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation more explicitly in our lands, stewardship, agriculture, and educational programs, in line with the Climate Action Plan adopted for Maine.
  • Integrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices into all our work, building on an explicit commitment we made in April 2021 and on activities already underway.
  • Engage in more sustained advocacy efforts on important issues connected with our mission.
  • Continue to build the financial and administrative capacity to support pursuit of these goals.

In the coming year, we will be giving priority focus on the emerging opportunities for new conservation projects, expanding our youth education integration with CREA, and continuing to evolve initiatives already underway with climate change and DEI. As we move forward in pursuing these priority directions, we will provide more detailed information on initiatives and progress in a series of future blog posts.

Climate Series Session 5 Recap: Subtraction is Action

On February 3, 2022, as part of its climate series, Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program on action by ‘subtraction.’ We often think of solving problems by adding something – technology, infrastructure, and so on. This session’s speakers explore how to live more sustainably through subtraction.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE! 

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!

Taking Action on Climate Session 4 Recap

On Jan. 27, 2022, the Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program offering just a few examples of the many ways to take action to address climate change. Below, you can watch the session, read summary highlights of the program, find resources to learn more, and consider suggestions on how to get involved.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE!

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!


Climate Series Session 3 Recap: What’s on your Dinner Plate?

On Jan. 20, 2022, the Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program on the role food systems and food waste play in climate change.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE! 

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!

2022 “Taking Action on Climate” Speaker Series Schedule

The Beaches Conference with Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension

On June 13 and 14th, Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension are presenting the Beaches Conference in Kittery.

The Beaches Conference works to provide continuing opportunities for exchange of the most current information among beach and coastal stakeholders with diverse interests in order to facilitate informed decision-making. All are invited to join them in celebrating beach monitoring and stewardship, building strong partnerships, and taking informed action on coastal issues.

>> 2019 Beaches Conference Program

Conference Themes

  • What makes for a healthy beach system?
  • Implementing coastal projects to support people and environment
  • What’s in the water? (i.e. bacteria, toxic contaminants, stormwater, etc.)
  • Coastal regulation for municipalities
  • Impacts of marine plastics and litter
  • Harvesting from the sea: interactions with other uses
  • What’s happening with marine animals?
  • Planning for climate uncertainty using the best science
  • Public participation in coastal science
  • Coastal access for multiple uses
  • The culture, history, and economics of our beaches
  • Flooding, Erosion, and Storms: preparing and responding

Click here to learn more and to register!