Climate Change Emphasis Gives Woodland Owners Good Reasons To Stay Current on Forest Carbon Markets

Posted: November 11, 2021 at 2:04 p.m.

By Rajan Parajuli — NC State University, Assistant Professor, Extension Forestry

On the heels of the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project’s Forest Landowner Conference – which focused on climate change – and with world leaders concluding the COP26 climate change meetings in Glasgow, Scotland, this is an opportune time to discuss several new initiatives in forest carbon markets. This is an area that the NC State Extension Forestry program pays close attention to because it is growing in importance internationally and because it has significant financial implications for woodland owners and forestry industry professionals in North Carolina.

The good news about these new initiatives is that they simplify several facets of forest carbon markets. This includes the project development process, the criteria that govern participation in the projects, and the financial requirements. To assist interested parties with the often-confusing array of entities and requirements that abound in this area, the Extension Forestry program has compiled a matrix of the major forest carbon market developers (six of them) in the United States, along with their features and requirements. You can view our snapshot here.

Terminology matters in this area, so here are a few points to keep in mind as you review the matrix:

  • Forest carbon projects are measured in metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent, also known as an offset, and are designed to augment carbon sequestration, or the rate of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.
  • Offset projects, including those of the forest carbon variety, must meet established standards to be registered in a public, independent registry.
  • Private project developers play a vital role in connecting buyers and sellers, and with helping those who are interested in participating in carbon offset projects. More specifically, the developers help in performing feasibility or validation studies of potential carbon projects.
  • Eligible carbon projects must include forest management activities that sequester additional, permanent greenhouse gas emissions and prevent leakage of greenhouse gas emissions to outside the project the project area.

Additional details on forest carbon projects and markets are available at An Introduction to Forest Carbon Offset Markets. Also, don’t hesitate to contact NC State Extension Forestry at: extension_forestry@ncsu.edu.