Forest Offset Projects in a Carbon Trading System
The Society of American Foresters (SAF) supports broad opportunity for forest landowners to engage in the mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions. SAF believes that well-designed and professionally implemented forest carbon offset projects provide real, additional, and permanent greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction benefits that combat climate change. The same ethic that underlies our positions on sustainable forest management underlies our position on forest carbon offsets; that is to ensure we manage our natural resources in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Forest carbon offset programs should be included in either voluntary or regulatory markets. Both types of offset program sequester greenhouse gases and provide co-benefits such as timber and nontimber products, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, forage, biomass energy, clean water, and cultural and spiritual values that benefit forestland owners and society. The revenues provided to forestland owners through carbon markets can be one effective strategy to help maintain forests as forests, avoiding conversion to alternative land uses such as real estate development while promoting forest stewardship and sustainability of forests, and ensuring forest productivity. The SAF supports the creation and maintenance of stable, predictable forest carbon offset markets that reflect applicable, current, efficient, accurate, and scientifically defensible practices, including practical accounting for carbon stored in harvested wood products.