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Forest Landowners' Willingness to Sell Carbon Credits: A Pilot Study

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Sequestered carbon is a new forest product that could help private forest owners earn financial returns while keeping their forests intact. Private forest owners are responsible for 78% of forests in Massachusetts, and the carbon these trees sequester could be traded in emerging cap-and-trade carbon markets in the United States. In forming policy about climate change and forestry, it is important to understand the factors that influence the likelihood of landowners choosing to sell sequestered carbon and participate in the carbon marketplace. In this pilot study, we explored the likelihood of Massachusetts forest owners selling carbon sequestered on their forestland. We found that landowners significantly favor higher payments, no withdrawal penalty, and, unexpectedly, longer time commitments. We also found that at current carbon prices, very few participants (less than 7%) would be willing to sell. Additional studies need to be conducted, with a larger sample of respondents, which may elucidate how socioeconomic variables and ownership attitudes influence forest owners' willingness to enroll in carbon markets.

Keywords: carbon credits; carbon sequestration; climate change policy; private landowners; willingness to sell

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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