University of Vermont

William Keeton: Carbon, Conservation, and Communities in the Carpathian Mountains

Bill Keeton visits a carbon flux monitoring station at the base of the Tatras Mountains in Slovakia
Bill Keeton visits a carbon flux monitoring station at the base of the Tatras Mountains in Slovakia. The location was the site of a massive 2004 windstorm that blew down a swath extending about 50 km by 4 km. Events like this are of great interest to forest ecologists in terms of ecosystem recovery processes and greenhouse gas dynamics.

Put a bunch of RSENR faculty and graduate students in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine, and what do you get?  An amazing international conference on forest carbon projects of course!

A technical workshop on capacity building for forest carbon projects convened May 28-29 in Uzhgorod, Ukraine, marking the successful completion of the first phase of a collaboration between RSENR Professor William Keeton's Carbon Dynamics Laboratory, the Ukrainian National Forestry University,  Agency for Sustainable Development of Transcarpathia (FORZA), and the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. The event brought together over 50 experts and stakeholders for an intensive exercise involving plenary presentations, demonstration site visits, working group sessions, and synthesis.

According to Bill, "forest carbon projects could have multiple co-benefits for the Carpathian Mountain region of central-eastern Europe, including climate mitigation, biodiversity conservation, and watershed protection."  The workshop identified capacities already available within the region, as well as a number of challenges that must be addressed for projects to move forward.  Adds Bill, "we produced a substantive set of recommendations that will help build capacity for Ukraine and other Carpathian nations to take advantage of this important opportunity."

Several important transboundary areas, including montane corridors linking Ukraine and Romania as well as the corners of Poland-Ukraine-Slovakia, are of particular interest for forest carbon projects.  These could help build international collaboration around cultural preservation, sustainable economic development, security, and ecosystem management, dovetailing the goals of the bioregional Carpathian Convention multilateral accord.

In the next phase of the project, the partnership will conduct a feasibility study and explore investment and funding opportunities for developing a demonstration Improved Forest Management carbon project under international voluntary carbon markets.  The partnership is grateful for funding provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the U.S. Fulbright Program in Ukraine, the European Forest Institute, and the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security at the University of Vermont.

The workshop was organized by several members of the RSENR community, including Bill, Associate Professor Cecilia Danks, Lecturer Marta Ceroni, Lecturer Yurij Bihun, Research Associate Thomas Buchholz, and Fulbright graduate scholars Dmytro Karabchuk and Amanda Egan.  After the workshop in Ukraine, the UVM contingent continued on to a larger conference called the Forum Carpathicum in Slovokia, organized by Science for the Carpathians, a network of scientists in which several of the UVM'ers participate actively.