Tuesday, June 30, 2009

British Columbia Sets Very Low Standard for Forest Carbon Offsets

The government of British Columbia in Canada has just released a draft forest carbon offset protocol for use in the province. The scope of eligibile activities is surprising and troubling:

  • Afforestation: increasing the size and number of BC forests by planting land that has not been forested since December 31, 1989;
  • Select Seed Use: planting seedlings selected for specific traits to promote faster growth, increased timber volume and carbon content, and resistance to insects and disease; and
  • Fertilization: adding nutrients to increase tree growth on sites deficient in one or more soil nutrients.
Afforestation is fine, but the other two activities will not yield benefits in the short-term and fertilization in particular will have negative environmental outcomes. Conspicuously absent are any forest management activities with environmental co-benefits. What about forest protection? What about lengthened rotation ages?

Also conspicuously absent is any test of the impact of projects on other environmental social values.

This protocol is out for comment until July 10. Please send in your comments!

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