Forests play a critical role in our environment, offering a range of benefits beyond simply providing timber products. They help purify the air, maintain biodiversity and offer recreational opportunities. Through photosynthesis, forests also absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass. The growth of forest carbon markets in recent years has been driven by increasing concerns over climate change and the need to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Like the forest timber market, the forest carbon credit market is complex and involves multiple players, such as forest landowners, compliance buyers and voluntary buyers. To understand the market, it is crucial to first understand the concept of forest carbon credits.
A forest carbon credit is a certificate that represents a unit of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions resulting from activities such as reforestation, afforestation and improved forest management. After being verified, certified and registered, these credits can be transacted on forest carbon markets and used by companies and governments to offset their GHG emissions on forest compliance markets and/or voluntary markets.
Forest landowners are the primary participants in forest carbon offset markets, including individuals, organizations and companies that own the forests and are responsible for the management practices that reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration.
Forest carbon credit verifiers are independent organizations responsible for verifying the accuracy of carbon credits generated by a project and ensuring that they meet the standards set by the relevant carbon credit certification scheme.
Forest carbon registries are independent organizations that maintain a database of all forest carbon credits that have been created, traded and retired. There are several different registries that certify these credits, and the Verified Carbon Standard is the most widely used. It registers offsets for afforestation, avoided conversion and improved forest management. Other most used registries are Verra, the American Carbon Registry, the Climate Action Reserve and Gold Standard.
Carbon credit aggregators are entities that group together several carbon credits from different projects and sell them as a portfolio. They often help small-scale project developers and landowners access the carbon credit market by aggregating the credits and making them more accessible to buyers.
Buyers on the forest carbon credit market can be divided into two main categories: compliance buyers and voluntary buyers. Compliance buyers are companies and governments that are subject to mandatory carbon reduction targets under various carbon-reduction schemes, such as the European Union Emissions Trading System and California Air Resources Board cap-and-trade program. Voluntary buyers are individuals, companies and governments that choose to purchase forest carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions voluntarily, as a way of demonstrating their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and promoting sustainable forest management.
By following the steps listed, forest landowners can sell their forest carbon credits and benefit from the carbon sequestration of their forests. The process of selling forest carbon credits can be complex. Without the expertise of an aggregator, buyers and sellers may struggle to find each other, negotiate prices and ensure that transactions are executed properly.
The process of selling forest carbon credits for a small landowner typically involves the following steps: