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Title: Saving the Forest from the Trees: Expert Views on Funding Restoration of Northern Arizona Ponderosa Pine Forests through Registered Carbon Offsets
Ponderosa pine forests in the southwestern United States of America are overly dense, increasing the risk of high-intensity stand-replacing wildfires that result in the loss of terrestrial carbon and release of carbon dioxide, contributing to global climate change. Restoration is needed to restore forest structure and function so that a more natural regime of higher frequency, lower intensity wildfires returns. However, restoration has been hampered by the significant cost of restoration and other institutional barriers. To create additional revenue streams to pay for restoration, the National Forest Foundation supported the development of a methodology for the estimation and verification of carbon offsets generated by the restoration of ponderosa pine forests in northern Arizona. The methodology was submitted to the American Carbon Registry, a prominent carbon registry, but it was ultimately rejected. This paper presents a post-mortem examination of that methodology and the reasons it was rejected in order to improve the development of similar methodologies in the future. Using a mixed-methods approach, this paper analyzes the potential atmospheric carbon benefits of the proposed carbon offset methodology and the public and peer-reviewed comments from the associated review of the methodology. Results suggest a misalignment between the priorities of carbon registries and more » the context-specific ecosystem service benefits of this type of restoration; although findings confirm the potential for reductions in released carbon due to restoration, these results illuminate barriers that complicate registering these reductions as voluntary carbon offsets under current guidelines and best practices, especially on public land. These barriers include substantial uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of carbon benefits. Overcoming these barriers will require active reflexivity by the institutions that register voluntary carbon offsets and the institutions that manage public lands in the United States. Such reflexivity, or reconsideration of the concepts and purposes of carbon offsets and/or forest restoration, will allow future approaches to better align objectives for successfully registering restoration-based voluntary carbon offsets. Therefore, the results of this analysis can inform the development of future methodologies, policies, and projects with similar goals in the same or different landscapes. « less
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1633756
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10289861
Journal Name:
Forests
Volume:
12
Issue:
8
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1119
ISSN:
1999-4907
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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