Landowners could get paid for maintaining trees

By S. Heather Duncan
Macon, GA (May 16, 2007)- Georgia’s owners of forest land have long argued that they somehow should get credit for the public service their trees provide: Cleaning the air by absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Now the state of Georgia is helping create a market for this invisible commodity. Tree growers and farmers could receive payments for storing carbon.

The Georgia Forestry Commission has developed the only state-run carbon registry in the Southeast and the first in the country focused on small, private landowners, said Josh Love, coordinator of the registry for the commission. The commission will start enrolling forest acreage in June and expects to develop guidelines for enrolling farmland this summer or fall, he said.
Eligible farmland likely would use low-till or other conservation methods, he said. The registry is a way for landowners to quantify how much carbon they keep out of the atmosphere. Companies that want to offset the carbon dioxide they produce could use the registry to find landowners who provide carbon benefits. By paying these people to continue sequestering carbon dioxide, companies could reduce their total damage to the environment.
There are no requirements for companies to do this, but that is expected to change in the near future, said Donald Hendrix, a Savannah-based senior forester for Environmental Services Inc. The company operates in states across the Southeast.
The Bush administration has long argued that it doesn’t have the power to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, but the Supreme Court recently ruled that it does.
The EPA is now considering what action to take.
Related Resources:
Macon Telegraph
Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry
Forestry Center