Canadian Forest Service Publications

Carbon credits and the conservation of natural areas. 2009. Freedman, B.; Stinson, G.; Lacoul, P. Environmental Reviews 17: 1-19.

Year: 2009

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 29788

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/A08-007

† This site may require a fee.


Increasing the amount of organic-carbon stored in the biomass of terrestrial ecosystems is an effective way to reduce the net anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This can be done by conserving existing ecological reservoirs of fixed organic-carbon, maintaining or enhancing the rate of sequestration, and restoring stocks that have been depleted by past land-use practices. Most trading systems for greenhouse-gas offsets recognize the validity of projects that gain ecological offsets, and permit them to sell carbon credits in an emerging marketplace for these novel commodities. Although ecological carbon-offset projects have been criticized from a variety of perspectives, most of the supposed problems can be satisfactorily mitigated. In addition to offsetting emissions of greenhouse gases, ecological projects that accumulate carbon credits may have a strong cross-linkage to the conservation of natural values, which in itself is an important action for society to undertake. This is, however, less of a consideration for projects that are based on anthropogenic ecosystems, such as no-till agricultural systems and plantation forests, which provide relatively few benefits to native biodiversity and might even detract from that objective if developed on newly converted natural habitat. Moreover, the existing rules for carbon-offset systems exclude some kinds of ecological projects from the trading markets, even though they would result in avoided emissions or enhanced sequestration of organic-carbon. As the emerging marketplace for carbon offsets grows, it will be important to understand the co-benefits and side effects of offset projects on non-carbon values, including native biodiversity.

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