East Texas Ag News: Seminar to be held to discuss carbon credits for forest landowners

(Save the Redwoods League / YouTube)
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 12:10 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - As climate concerns grow and solutions are being sought, there is a good amount of attention in forested land serving as a carbon ‘sink’. Carbon offsets, commonly known as carbon credits, are permits that allow one party (typically industry) to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Companies get a set number of credits that they can then buy and sell. What’s unique about these credits is that forest landowners can monetize the carbon being stored on their land in trees and the soil on this carbon market.

These carbon markets can be either regulatory or voluntary. Carbon credits are issued and traded through a registry. Often, companies work with (and compensate) private forest landowners to enroll and verify a carbon offset site.

The way forest landowners can benefit financially stems from our basic plant science knowledge: plants take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and give off oxygen (O2). What trees keep and use as a fundamental building block is carbon. This crucial fact makes timberland owners potential participants in the carbon offset market.

To better understand this market and monetization that may be realized, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Angelina County will hold a seminar on Tuesday, Oct 18 starting at 6:30 pm at the Angelina County Extension Office located at 2201 S. Medford Dr. in Lufkin.

The featured speaker, Dr. Eric Taylor, will provide an overview of voluntary forest carbon markets, and discuss the different forest carbon project types, landowner eligibility requirements, carbon registries, and important matters to consider before signing a forest carbon contract.

CO2 emissions are just one of the greenhouse gases that are identified as an issue. But CO2 has been recognized as the most impactful gas and one that can be captured and quantified. If you were to completely remove the moisture from a tree, you would find that it is close to 50% carbon by weight. Additionally, about 50% of the total carbon captured in the forest is stored in the soil.

The contracts will last several years and include language focused on the following obligations: permanence, additionality, leakage, exclusivity, and verifiability.

Permanence indicates the project/ area may not be reversed before the allotted time has transpired after issuance of a carbon credit(s).

Additionality means credits will be for projects that would not have happened otherwise. For a forest to be eligible, it must demonstrate that it is additional. Furthermore, actions that are taking place are beyond what would be otherwise required by law, regulation, or legally binding mandate, and that they exceed what would otherwise occur in a conservative business-as-usual scenario.

Leakage means carbon offset credit may not shift CO2 emissions elsewhere are a result of the project.

Lastly, the registered land must be verified. There are third-party entities that use scientific evidence to enroll land in a credible carbon registry.

With all the constraints and legalities, there is clearly a need to be well-educated before such an agreement is made. The program will not be a sales event as the guest speaker, Dr. Eric Taylor, is a silviculturist with a joint appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M Forest Service.


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu