Forisk recently published their quarterly Forisk Research Quarterly (FRQ) Publication for quarter one of 2021. This excerpt from the publication examines growing concern around global warming, the role forests play in carbon offsetting and forest carbon marketplaces. Forisk elaborates on an important value of SilviaTerra’s: forests have value beyond just timber, and then highlights the criteria forest carbon projects need to meet in order to be successful.

Below is an excerpt from the Q1 2021 FRQ Publication.

The Earth is warming. Until last year, the hottest five years on record were 2014 through 2018. Then, according to NASA, the average global surface temperature in 2020 tied 2016 as the highest ever recorded. Evidence points to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere as the primary culprit. While higher temperatures in given regions can have positive or negative consequences, the net results, on a global basis, negatively disrupt balances in the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere.

This situation has motivated countries, corporations and communities to slowly forge efforts and develop mechanisms that mitigate the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One of these approaches includes harnessing the role of forests.

Role of Forests

While forests can both emit and store carbon, managed forests have long been recognized for their abilities to provide atmospheric carbon reduction benefits. Forests offer a so-called “natural” approach to mitigating global warming by (1) absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and (2) reducing the release of incremental carbon. Such approaches include forest conservation, replanting trees (restoration) and improved forestland management.

While high forest productivity can increase carbon storage in managed forests, some research also points to how decreasing harvest frequency helped store more forest carbon, especially in cases in where younger forests replace older forests. In sum, forests and timberlands have significant carbon sequestration and storage capabilities, which can be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions, through multiple approaches.

Markets

Carbon has value. Firms including Amazon, Microsoft, Delta Airlines, Disney, oil giant BP, and others have committed, in total, billions of dollars to offset their carbon emissions over time. Forests provide one way to access and capture this value. Therefore, a portion of these dollars flow to forest carbon offset projects registered, most commonly, through the voluntary market with one of four standards: the American Carbon Registry (ACR); the Climate Action Reserve (CAR); Gold Standard (GS); and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Once set up, projects get verified by accredited third parties. Once the verifier signs off, carbon credits can then be sold.

However, as noted in a recent Forisk blog post, forest carbon projects have their critics and challenges. Forest projects that create competition with other land users, such as farmers or ranchers, generate conflicts. Also, forest carbon projects that fail to change behavior simply take credit for something that would have happened anyway.

To succeed, forest carbon markets and projects must (1) be able to account for local or regional differences in forests and management; (2) minimize compliance and transaction costs, especially for smaller landowners; (3) include rigorous measurement and verification; and (4) account for leakage where, in short, operators move activities from one market to another to account for carbon offset projects.

Read the rest of this article and the entire publication here.