Page 17 - Georgia Forestry - Issue 3 - Summer 2020
P. 17

to mitigate their own carbon emissions:  On its news site, Delta Air Lines cites “carbon removal opportunities through forestry” as part of its one- billion-dollar commitment to becoming
carbon neutral.
 UPS reports that it’s offsetting its
shipments’ emissions with reforestation support, among other efforts.
 Amazonrecentlyannounceda$7.3 million investment in the Family Forest Carbon Program as part of its plan to become net zero carbon by 2040.
Construction Industry Turns to Mass Timber
The construction industry is beginning to go green by using the large, versatile wood panels known as mass timber in place of less sustainable materials.
“Construction is not quick to adapt,” admits Casey Malmquist, founder and CEO of the cross-laminated timber (CLT) producer SmartLam North America. “And a lot of this is counter- intuitive—building a skyscraper out of wood. But there’s been an increasing awareness of the need for sustainabil- ity, particularly on the carbon piece, so people are looking at it more realistically and enthusiastically. If you look at pro- jections, by 2034, there will be a need for 50 or 60 plants of similar capacity to the two we have now.”
Where developers are going, gov- ernments are following. The federal government included the Timber Inno- vation Act in the 2018 Farm Bill. The act grants support to mass timber con- struction. And in the Georgia legislature, House Bill 1015 expands the state’s carbon registry, allowing carbon credits to be tied to carbon-sequestering con- struction projects. (The bill has not yet passed the senate.)
All this investment in forests comes from consumer demand, says Deron Davis, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.
“We’re looking to the products that we buy to be produced in a more sustainable way,” he says.
And corporations who don’t raise the bar when it comes to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards, Davis points out, are no longer going to be able to compete with those who do.
 Carbon Sequestration Incentivizing Georgia’s Forest Landowners
 There are ample incentives
for corporations to buy carbon credits from forest landowners. Publicity about, say, Starbucks’ reforestation investments or Microsoft’s commitment to soil carbon sequestration doesn’t just provide a sales boost—it’s become a market imperative.
But what about the large forest landowners tapped to sell carbon credits to these companies? To be eligible, most need to partner with a certification program like Working Woodlands, which will launch in Georgia in 2021. This means opening their forests for assessment and adhering to a 10-year customized management
toward managing land and water better—that’s a win for everybody.”
It also helps that multiple sources are smoothing the way for forest landowners to take advantage of carbon credit sales.
In addition to all the technical support Working Woodlands and similar programs offer land- owners, they also help to broker relationships with corporate buyers. (Davis says TNC is aided in this marketing by for-profit companies like Bluesource.)
And Davis believes finding buyers, perhaps especially from Georgia-based corporations, could be relatively easy.
 “From our vantage point, farmers and landowners
are conservationists.”
 plan that might require delaying a harvest to maximize carbon sequestration or establishing a conservation easement.
“We have a joke at The Nature Conservancy,” says Deron Davis, TNC of Georgia’s executive direc- tor. “If you want a lot of opinions about how to manage a piece of land, all you have to do is ask a lot of different land managers. No two agree.”
Yet Davis thinks Georgia forest landowners will embrace the challenge—and not just for the newfound income stream carbon credits can provide. (Before the pandemic hit, Davis says Working Woodlands credits were likely to be sold at around $10/credit, and forestland was valued at about 2.5 credits/acre/year.)
“From our vantage point,” he says, “farmers and landowners are conservationists. The degree to which we can share goals
“We’re seeing that demand is exceeding the supply and some- times there’s a want for what I’ll call boutique supply,” he says. “A Georgia-based corporation might be interested in investing in carbon credits that are a result of forestland in Georgia.”
This potential windfall, Georgia Forestry Association President Andres Villegas says, is as it should be. “Our forests are delivering so much value to humanity with clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and the products we use every day. Those are life-sustaining elements but
those things
have not been
for. Carbon
credits are an
to monetize
them.” | 15

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