Looking to help fight climate change, private landowners Lloyd and Michael Purnell are enrolling their tract of forestland, known as the Wolf Lands, into the carbon market.
Michigan-based consultancy Green Timber Forestry, and SIG Carbon, will provide project development services in order to protect 13,000 acres (approx 20 sq miles) across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The majority of the Wolf Lands is in what's known as the "Arrowhead" of Minnesota, a triangular region bordered by Lake Superior to the south and Canada to the north. The Michigan acreage includes over one half mile of pristine sandy beach frontage on the south shore of Lake Superior, while the Minnesota acreage includes many miles of frontage on numerous lakes, rivers and streams.
This project will help justify reducing harvest intensity and avoid development in desirable and ecologically significant areas of the property.
“Without the financial incentive of a forest carbon project, all these prime waterfront parcels would certainly be targeted as high value development properties,” says landowner Lloyd Purnell. The Wisconsin properties are close to urban centers and commercial agriculture and all are Prime Recordbook Buck hunting properties. Without protection, these types of parcels are also extremely vulnerable to parcelization and development,” he added.
As opposed to land being valued strictly in terms of timber or for real estate development and other commercial usages, entering the carbon market helps landowners realize value for keeping forests as forests by selling carbon credits.
The process begins with a precise inventory that determines the amount of carbon stored in trees on a particular parcel of land. The amount of carbon determines the number of credits the landowner has available to sell. The credits are purchased by carbon-emitting companies as a way to offset their impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Green Timber conducted the “feasibility study” on Purnell’s land, and determined that developing a carbon project was economically viable. After considering a number of project developers to help guide the project forward, Purnells chose SIG Carbon.
“SIG Carbon offered an innovative, flexible, and nimble project proposal that was attractive to Wolf Lands,” says Justin Miller of Green Timber Forestry. “This project development approach will result in Wolf Lands maximizing benefits over the life of the project.”
SIG Carbon will perform forest carbon growth and yield modeling, carbon quantification services, and all aspects of project development. SIG Carbon will also find a buyer for the credits and facilitate the sale.
Green Timber Forestry has completed the full forest carbon inventory and will continue to support the project through verification.
By making a long-term commitment to sustainable forest management , Purnell ensures that planet-warming carbon dioxide remains in his trees, rather than being released into the atmosphere.
The Purnells will receive payments for credit sales, in exchange for their long-term commitment to sustainable forest management. Additional benefits come in the form of improved biodiversity, especially on the Wisconsin portion of Wolf Lands.
“Over the last few years we are seeing the return of bobcats, rattlesnakes, badgers, and even an occasional lone black bear, cougar, elk, or wolf,” Purnell says. “It’s been satisfying for us to see a comeback by species that had been virtually extinct in this part of the state.”
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