Capitol Hill has been buzzing with conversations, hearings, and round tables on how rural America can help address climate change. One such opportunity is via carbon markets for small forest holders.
Across the U.S., the largest portion of forests are owned by families and individuals in small parcels between 20 and 1,000 acres. For these small forest owners, carbon markets provide a voluntary avenue for action, rather than a regulatory approach. And, like timber markets, signal the value in keeping their forests as forests.
More importantly, carbon markets help landowners overcome cost barriers, allowing them to bring in income from their land that helps them implement improved management practices that they would normally not be able to afford.
The good news is that carbon markets are growing. Mark Carney, chief of the private sector Taskforce for Scaling Carbon Markets, has pointed out that voluntary carbon markets will need to scale 15-fold to meet growing demand fueled by net-zero pledges made by companies. This demand and the dollars associated with carbon credits could be channeled to family and individual forest owners.