The Consultant - 2008 - (Page 25)
Carbon – A Forestry Opportunity?
BY NEIL SAMPSON
ince the late 1980s, forests and forestry have been recognized as a possible way to reduce the buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. As policy makers at the state and federal levels debate options for future climate change legislation, it is important for foresters to consider whether and how carbon credits can become a feasible economic opportunity for forest landowners. The basic idea is that if non-forested land is planted to trees, or a forest is managed so that it captures and stores (sequesters) carbon that would not have otherwise been sequestered, the landowner can receive credit for that additional sequestered carbon. If a market exists where other people are purchasing carbon credits to meet a company goal or a legally imposed “cap” on carbon emissions, the forest landowner can sell his credits on that market. At this time, the only market in the U.S. where carbon credits can be sold is the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).1 This is a different type of sale, however. The stored carbon (and ownership of the land and trees) remains with the property. The landowner sells only the assurance that the stored carbon will remain out of the atmosphere for an extended period of time. It’s at this point that the transaction gets complicated, as buyers, markets and eventually governments establish criteria to assure that the carbon credits claimed are an acceptable substitute (usually called an offset) for CO2 emission reductions. Foresters are skilled in packaging and delivering wood products to existing markets. The challenge is to expand those skills to include the packaging and delivery of carbon offset products on behalf of their clients. This raises several issues.
The standard unit of measurement in a carbon market is one metric ton (2204 lbs) of carbon dioxide equivalent, so foresters need to calculate how much wood will contain the carbon that would represent that metric ton. Those conversions are fairly straightforward. Dry wood is about 50% carbon. If carbon is converted to carbon dioxide (for example, through combustion) one ton of carbon will produce 3.67 tons of CO2. A simple example would be to calculate the amount of CO2 equivalent in a load of delivered pulpwood. If the wood is weighed, the calculation would be: tCO2e = stWg • .5 • .5 • 3.67 • .91, or tCO2e = stWg • .833, where: tCO2e is metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, and stWg is delivered short tons of green wood whose moisture content is assumed to be 50%.
1. See www.chicagoclimatex.com for background information on current market conditions, prices, traded volumes, etc. THE CONSULTANT 2008
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2008
Executive Director’s Message Mapping the Future of ACF
President’s Message ACF Celebrates 60 Years
Professional Forestry Education: The Present, from a Texas Perspective
The Future of Forestry Education: Will We Prepare Relics or Icons?
Forestry and Consulting: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Carbon – A Forestry Opportunity?
Advocacy – Its Benefits May Come With Frustrations
Katrina Top 10: Public Policy Advocacy Lessons Learned After Hurricane Disaster
‘Mighty Giants’ Details Rich History of American Chestnut Tree
The Cost of Breaking in New Employees
Hiring Practices: Questions You Shouldn’t Ask a Job Applicant
Graduate Forestry Degrees and Consulting Forestry
Taxation and Land Devaluation: An Examination of the Tax Burden on Non-industrial Private Landowners
Forester Licensing: Essential to Guarding the Forestry Profession
Forester Licensing: Not Worth the Effort
ACF Code of Ethics: Canon 15 What You Don’t Say or Do Can Hurt You
Philippe Morgan: European Forestry Consultant Extraordinaire
The Final Word: A Tale of Two Technologies
The Consultant - 2008