Located in Northern Minnesota, this forest has traditionally been managed for commercial timber production. In 2010, the forest owner (UPM Blandin) signed a perpetual conservation easement, now held by the State of Minnesota, which protects 173,386 acres of hardwood forest in perpetuity.
As defined by the easement, UPM is required to “continue management of the protected property as a sustainable working forest in a manner that will protect in perpetuity the Conservation Values and to prevent any use of the protected property that will significantly impair or interfere with the Conservation Values.” Conservation Values include significant native plant communities and wildlife species habitat as well as native forest and natural ecosystems.
The UPM Blandin conservation easement is the largest conservation project in the state of Minnesota.
In addition to delivering emissions reductions to help take action to combat climate change (SDG 13), the project delivers other sustainable development benefits, including:
- Life on Land: UPM’s uneven-aged management system values improved carbon storage and conservation value over more aggressive management regimes. This creates various ecosystems within the forest which in turn leads to more diverse habitats for flora and fauna. Several species, including some that are threatened, live in the forest including the golden-winged warbler and the northern long eared bat. Studies are showing that warbler are benefitting as they require both young forest as well as some older growth trees nearby. In addition, the forest protects 30 miles of state designated trout streams, 47 species of birds and 30+ species of mammals including black bear, grey wolf, and moose.
- Quality Education: In 2017 the forest supported 140 students, 125 attendees at ecosystem silviculture and forest management workshops and two research studies on bird and hydrology effects of forest management.
- Clean Water and Sanitation: The forest protects water resources for local communities including 60,000 acres of wetlands, 33 miles of lake and pond shoreline and 151 miles of streams.
- Sustainable Cities and Communities: The project provides forest access and resources to local communities. In 2017 56 firewood permits were provided, over 40,000 seedlings were given away and over 180,000 acres were accessible for recreational use.
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