Carbon Offsetting Helps American Native People


Anne Sherwood for The New York Times

The current rage is to dump on offsets- when I next meet the Pope I will ask him to take back the word "indulgences." Thus it was nice to read in the New York Times about the Nez Perce reservation in Lapwai, Idaho, where the native people are creating jobs and restoring their lands by planting trees as carbon offsets. "These forests are a carbon crop," Brian Kummett, a forester for the Nez Perce tribal forestry division, said as he surveyed a vast field studded with recently planted ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and larch saplings. "We can sell the rights from the time the forest is planted to the time it's harvested, 80 or 120 years down the road."The article continues with a good explanation of the principles of the carbon offset concept, and some of the problems the native people face in selling their credits- evidently they get a low price because in America the practice is voluntary and the price is low, four bucks a ton. In Europe it has reached $30.

"We need $12 to $15 carbon to really make this work," Mr. Dodge said. "We're doing it on small margins. But to bring in a lot more landowners, you need better prices."

More from the Times:

The Nez Perce tribe has 4,000 acres that it has planted with trees in 29 projects across the 75,000-acre reservation. The tribe had hoped to sell its carbon-fixing rights to European companies. But because the United States has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, it cannot, even though it is considered a sovereign nation.

The sale of carbon sequestration rights has enhanced land conservation. Plants on rangeland where carbon rights have been sold, for example, have to be kept healthy to assure that they hold carbon. That means that they have to be grazed by a specific number of cows in a certain way. Forests have to be managed sustainably. ::New York Times

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