Carbon Offsets in American Forests

Carbon Offsets in American Forests

Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas created by human activity and has therefore become environmental enemy #1. When that carbon is removed from the atmosphere to slow climate change, there is a need for somewhere to store it. Landowners can do their part while earning thousands of dollars a year in carbon credits, all just by having trees on their land. That’s right, the best way to capture carbon pollution from the air isn’t some fancy, expensive technology! Forests are the best collector of carbon pollution available and you don’t need to do anything different on your land.

If you own some forested land you may be able to get paid for the simple existence of your trees. If you want to reforest by planting more trees, you can earn even more through carbon reforestation credits. First, you can find out easily on LandGate how much you might be paid for carbon offsets on your land with our Carbon LandEstimate™. Second, LandGate can certify your carbon offsets and help you sell them.

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What is Carbon Sequestration in Trees?

Trees can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their roots, trunks, branches, and even needles and leaves. This is done via photosynthesis. During the photosynthesis process, trees take in carbon dioxide and store it until their natural decomposition, at which point that carbon is then stored in the soil. On the flip side, man-made disturbances such as fires and deforestation disrupt tree carbon storage at a much higher cost than natural decomposition. If a tree is burned in a forest fire, that carbon instead gets released back into the atmosphere.

Types of Trees – Best Trees for Carbon Sequestration

Some trees will be better at sequestering carbon from the air than others. LandGate outlines the carbon sequestration of different tree species on our map (figure 1). This will show types of trees and their carbon sequestration capacity in ton/acre/year. The more carbon the tree canopy can store, the more the land will be worth for carbon offsets.

Tree Carbon Storage in ton/acre/year on landgate.com.
Figure 1. Tree Carbon Storage in ton/acre/year on landgate.com.

The older the forest, generally the better it is for carbon dioxide storage in trees. Older trees may grow at a slower rate than saplings, but the amount of carbon they are able to store is greater. There are also certain tree species with increased carbon sequestration rates. Dave Nowak, a researcher at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, New York, studies just this – tree species for carbon offsets. Nowak found that these trees are especially good at absorbing and storing carbon: the common horse-chestnut, black walnut, American sweetgum, ponderosa pine, red pine, white pine, London plane, Hispaniolan pine, Douglas fir, scarlet oak, red oak, Virginia live oak, and bald cypress.1

Here are some general rules of thumb you can use to determine what kind of trees are best for carbon storage:2

  • Fast growing trees
  • Long-lived trees
  • Large leaves and wide crowns
  • Native species
  • Low-maintenance, disease-resistant species

The best trees for carbon offsets are also present in areas where the forest receives a lot of water precipitation. This makes the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest the best place for tree carbon storage in the United States. Other areas of high carbon storage include the forests of the Southeast and Appalachia, followed by the forests in the Northeast and New England, as well as the forests in the Rocky Mountain region. Heavily forested areas can hold as much as 3.5 tons/acre/year of CO2 in trees alone.

Carbon Offsets in Trees – Get a Free Carbon Certification and Sell Carbon Credits from Your Land with LandGate

You may have heard about various large corporations pledging to be “carbon neutral” and wonder how these companies can claim this while simultaneously producing a lot of carbon pollution. In order to back up their “carbon neutral” claim, companies will pay to protect forested areas and calculate the amount of carbon stored per year to offset their own pollution. Companies will pay you money just for keeping your land the way it already is. You can see what your land is worth for carbon storage, get your carbon offsets certified, as well as use the #1 marketplace to sell your carbon credits, all for free with LandGate. Find your land on our map to get started.

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