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Carbon Credit Eligibility under Area Regulation of Harvest Levels in Northern Minnesota

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We evaluated the implications of area regulation of harvest on eligible carbon under both the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) for public forest lands in north central Minnesota (89,840 ha total). We used data from the carbon submodel of the US Forest Service Forest Vegetation Simulator (Lake States variant) to evaluate changes in forest carbon stocks under different management scenarios. Baseline harvest intensity was defined by considering the manager's short-range tactical plans and the distribution of harvests by cover type and intensity class then became the “business as usual” (BAU) for use in the calculation of eligible carbon under the VCS and CCX. Under VCS, the most effective way to increase carbon stocks while meeting other management objectives was to shift harvest practices to lower intensity entries and retain higher residual basal areas. The carbon stock change rates for each manager varied significantly under the BAU scenario and resulted in a mean annual net decrease. Because CCX carbon credit eligibility requires a net increase of carbon stocking from the base year, area regulation may create periods of time where there is no eligible carbon volume. An alternate management strategy that uses the area regulation method, reduces harvest intensity, and decreases overall acreage harvested was able to provide higher postharvest carbon stocks versus the BAU scenario under VCS.
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Keywords: area regulation; carbon credits; carbon sequestration; ecological restoration; forest management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2011

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