Carbon Reduction Program

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The University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest spans 15,000 acres across three counties in Southeastern Kentucky.

For decades, as one published report recently put it, the forest that covers parts of Breathitt, Perry and Knott counties has served as a “living laboratory for how healthy forests can impact the water and animals that run through them.”

Now, though, thanks to the innovative thinking of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, the forest has the ability to provide additional resources to enhance its research, teaching and demonstration missions. As part of the Our Path Forwardinitiative, Robinson Forest is helping preserve the environment and protect UK’s fiscal future, too.

UK is working with The Nature Conservancy’s Working Woodlands program, which allows Eastern Kentucky landowners to certify conservation efforts of forests. The conservancy calculates how much carbon is in the forest and then helps convert it into carbon credits that can be purchased by others who want to offset pollution that may be attributed to them.

Based on the result of a carbon inventory of Robinson Forest, the carbon reduction program may ultimately generate several million dollars over the next several years. The implementation team, led by College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Dean Nancy Cox, is developing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Nature Conservancy to assist UK as a broker in the carbon credit market. A portion of the revenue will be used to fund infrastructure needs for Robinson Forest. The remainder of the revenue will be used for a multi-disciplinary pilot project to address community health in eastern Kentucky (part of the President’s Research Initiative).