This story comes from WVIA News.
Owners of formerly-mined lands now have a chance to transform their properties into young, healthy forests.
“We’re looking back at years of mine closure and seeing a really great opportunity to go back and intervene and kind of bring things back up to full ecological restoration,” said Amie Fleming, associate director of Quantified Ventures.
The company’s Reforesting Legacy Mine Lands Program aims to plant native trees, creating forests on 2,000 acres of former mine land mostly in the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania.
“We’re really focused on lands that have met federal reclamation standards and have gone through that process,” she said. “They remain an area of interest just because the ecological benefit post reclamation doesn’t recover in the same way that it could with some intervention.”
The company is partnering with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Green Forests. They received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the project. Other funding is from the voluntary carbon market, said Todd Appel, managing director of the company.
“We pay for all the cost of the work on the ground, the site preparation and the planting and the maintenance afterwords,” he said. “We also will pay landowners a fee for participating.”
Quantified Ventures is looking for sites around 100 acres. They will first visit the property with a forester and assess the suitability of the land. If approved for the program, site preparation begins in the fall and planting in the spring.
“From the start of site prep to the end of planting should be about a year,” said Appel.
The properties will be monitored for a minimum of two years. The USDA grant requires them to ensure that 70% of trees planted survive.
They are also asking that the property owners agree to put the land under protection so that it remains a healthy sustainable forest.
Restoring the forests provides habitat for birds and other species. Forests help remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, which Appel said is important for addressing climate change.
“Forests are a huge part of Pennsylvania cultural and economy and lifestyle,” said Fleming. “Being able to return those sites back to that natural ecology state is an important benefit that might not get funded at a significant level otherwise.”