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Forest carbon markets for woodland owners

Carbon, carbon, carbon. Many woodland owners have been hearing more news about opportunities with forest carbon markets. In these markets, landowners are paid for the carbon storage and sequestration that their trees provide. Funds come from corporations and individuals that pay to offset their own carbon dioxide emissions.

Minnesota’s forests are rich with carbon. Private woodland owners manage approximately seven million acres of Minnesota forests, making them an important component of the forest carbon marketplace. With all of the talk about carbon, many Minnesota woodland owners are wondering how they can be a part of these markets.

Voluntary carbon markets: a growing opportunity

The greatest opportunity for Minnesota woodland owners is in the voluntary carbon market system. Voluntary markets are typically managed by private companies, as opposed to compliance markets which involve government agencies.

Many voluntary markets are designed for smaller property sizes and allow shorter time commitments. These types of forest carbon market programs may be the greatest opportunity for private woodland owners with smaller properties (less than 100 acres).

Historically, landowners entered their properties into carbon markets for commitments as long as 100 years. Some new programs are offering shorter commitment time periods, even as short as one year. A number of these newer carbon markets are appealing and targeted to landowners with smaller property sizes.

Voluntary carbon markets continue to evolve. As of now, carbon markets are difficult for most private woodland owners in Minnesota to access. However, carbon markets are expanding and becoming more accessible to private woodland owners.

On Friday March 19, 2021 our Fridays with a Forester series kicked off with a presentation on forest carbon markets for woodland owners. You can watch a recording of the conversation on our YouTube channel.

Matt Russell, Extension forestry specialist

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