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Carbon credits on Minnesota woodlands

Family forest owners in Minnesota may be eligible to receive significant carbon credit payments for acres planted or converted to forest after 1990. This page provides information and links about how carbon credits work. More detail about carbon sequestration and storage for specific forest types in Minnesota is available here.

Watch a presentation on this topic now:

The content on this page is also available as a web-based seminar, or “webinar.  Click here to watch the March 2010 recording. After watching it, please fill out our quick evaluation form.  You can also access the content in written form, complete with links, here.

About carbon credits

Global climate change is driven by rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Because wood is about 50% carbon, growing trees pull carbon out of the atmosphere. This process is called carbon sequestration. The faster trees grow, the more carbon they pull out of the atmosphere.

balsam-under-redpineIn some countries, there are caps or limits on the amount of carbon industrial firms can emit. If an industry is unable to meet its cap, it can purchase the right to emit more carbon on the open market. Markets for carbon credits are now well established in order to meet this need.

Although the US does not currently have a cap and trade regulation in effect, carbon credits are now traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Forest owners committed to long-term forest growth can sell carbon credits on these markets. Carbon trading is entirely market based–this is not a government (or other public) subsidy.

Current rates traded on the CCX are variable, but have plunged in late 2009 and early 2010 to only a few cents per metric ton of carbon sequestered. At these prices, revenue from sales of carbon credits may not be great enough to justify enrollment.  This could change dramatically though, with pre-recession norms closer to the $3-5/tonne range.

Possible barriers

Few Minnesota family forest owners currently receive carbon credits. You’ll need very detailed records of your tree planting activities, and will likely need to work closely with a professional forester to prepare your documentation.

In addition, regulations are still being drawn up. Can carbon sequestered by growing forests be counted as carbon offset? How exactly should it be calculated? Some standards are still in development and incomplete.

Carbon credits are promising, but not yet well established in Minnesota. If you have experience with carbon credits for forest land in Minnesota, tell us about it in the comments below.

Learn more

landowner-guide-carbon-cover-screencap)For a detailed overview of carbon credits available to Minnesota woodland owners, download A landowner’s guide to carbon sequestration credits.

More detail about carbon sequestration and storage for specific forest types in Minnesota is available here.

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5 Responses to “Carbon credits on Minnesota woodlands”

  1. Luke says:

    I am an undergraduate forestry student from the University of Missouri conducting research on carbon sequestration with a special emphasis on Missouri forests. As you stated, things are still being worked out on carbon sequestration. Do you have any idea where I can find primary literature on payments or economics of carbon sequestration programs for the midwest?


  2. Dean Current says:

    Luke, Good question. There is quite a bit of uncertainty right now and we need to wait to see what the US Congress does but there is some existing information. You might check a couple of publications that may be helpful. One is the Landowners guide to Carbon Sequestration ( which is primarily aimed at landowners as the title implies. The other is a study prepared by the UMN Dept. of Forest Resources for Minnesota Power that looks at the impact of a renewable energy power plant and biomass availability for such a facility which provides information on carbon sequestered by Midwestern forests. Aitken County looked into carbon credits from thier forest management activities and you may want to try to contact them. You may also want to contact Katie Fernholz at Dovetail Partners ( I beleive she was involved with the Aitken County work.

  3. […] You can read the new content at our carbon credits page. […]

  4. John DuPlissis says:

    Hi Luke!

    As Dean mentions there is great uncertainty in the carbon markets right now as we all wait for Congress to pass a climate bill and send it to the President for his signature. I was working on an economic analysis of the potential costs and benefits of forestry offset projects for family forest owners but until this legislation is passed there is no way to accurately quantify potential benefits.

    It is important ot understand that everything that has been written about carbon credits and forestry offset projects could become meaningless depending on what congress eventually passes. Having said that I would like add another publication to the ones Dean recommended above. Payments for Forest Carbon Opportunities & Challenges for Small Forest owners provides a nice overview of Forest Carbon offset markets and everything that is part and parcel of an offset project.

  5. […] how carbon credits are traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange.  For more on this issue, check our carbon credits page and John’s April 2009 post called Carbon Credits and Managed Family Forests: How it […]


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