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Questions to ask your forester about carbon markets

Some Minnesota woodland owners have begun enrolling their properties in 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.

Is a carbon market right for you?

Private woodland owners manage approximately seven million acres of Minnesota forests, potentially making them a large component of the forest carbon marketplace. With the increased interest in forest carbon, many Minnesota woodland owners are still wondering if carbon markets are appropriate for them.

If enrolling your property in a carbon market is of interest to you, it should be a part of your woodland management plan. Your forester can help you in writing a new management plan or updating a current one for your property.

If you are deciding whether or not carbon markets are right for you and your property, below are some questions to ask your forester:

  • How long is my commitment if I enroll my property in a carbon program?
  • Can I harvest timber on my property if it’s enrolled in a carbon program?
  • What are the costs to me if I enroll my property in a carbon program?
  • What are my responsibilities as a landowner while my property is enrolled in a carbon program? For example, are there limitations on forest management activities, required paperwork, or other responsibilities I should be aware of?
  • My land is currently enrolled in a tax-incentive program where I receive a payment (e.g., SFIA or 2c in Minnesota). If my property is also enrolled in a carbon program, can I receive the additional payment?
  • What will happen if the property is sold? Does it need to remain in the carbon program? 
  • Have you worked with other landowners like me that have enrolled in carbon markets, and what was their success in the process?

The decision of whether or not to enroll your woodland in a carbon market will depend on the landowner. The amount of payment, minimum acreages, and landowner responsibilities vary depending on the carbon program, so lean on your forester to help you understand if carbon markets are right for you and your property.   

To find a state, industry, or consulting forester, this interactive map can provide you with a number of approved woodland stewardship plan writers in your area. 

Matthew Russell, Extension forestry specialist

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