Receiving as much as 200 inches of annual rainfall on average, the forested western slopes of the Oregon Coast Range unsurprisingly fit the definition of a rainforest. In fact, this is true for much of the Pacific Coast of North America, in the area between Northern California’s redwoods and Southeastern Alaska.
This region, along with the Canadian boreal forest and the world's tropical forests, are considered the ecological lungs of the planet, filtering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create oxygen, while also storing the carbon in long-lived trees, dead standing and downed wood and in roots in the soil. While all plants provide this function, the quick growth rates and large sizes that coastal trees attain provides a powerful mechanism to help absorb the additional carbon dioxide that is warming the planet.
The carbon storage benefits of conserving natural habitats such as trees, marshes and soils in natural and working landscapes are “natural climate solutions” and the overarching topic of a carbon storage focused speaker series, “From Ridgetop to Reef,” hosted by the MidCoast Watersheds Council.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, 333 SE Bay Blvd., Newport, Dominick DellaSala, of the Geos Institute, will focus on the vital role coastal rainforests play globally. His talk will also discuss the importance of conserving unlogged forests and how working forests, too, can be managed for additional carbon benefits.
DellaSala is president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, and he is the former president of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America Section. He is an internationally renowned author of more than 200 science papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management and landscape ecology. His book, “Temperate and Boreal Rain Forests of the World: Ecology and Conservation,” received an academic excellence award from Choice magazine, one of the nation's top book review journals. His recent co-authored book, “The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature’s Phoenix,” presents science on the ecological importance of wildfires. DellaSala co-founded the Geos Institute in July 2006 and said he is motivated “to leave a living planet for my two daughters, two grandkids and all those that follow.”
Following the January presentation, on the first Thursday of each month until June, “From Ridgetop to Reef” will explore different habitats of Oregon’s coast as natural climate solutions and their potential to store carbon, and the tools and incentives needed to foster widespread actions to enhance this capacity.
For more information on this series, “From Ridgetop to Reef,” go online at www.midcoastwatersheds.org/carbon-speaker-series.