With the majority of Monroe County occupied by timber, a program funded by several major U.S. corporations allows landowners to benefit financially by not cutting down trees.
“The carbon credits for mature trees and anything harvestable or thinable can get harvest-deferred credits. Any counties in any states in the nation can apply for it. The payment has been averaging $12 per acre, plus or minus, and I’ve seen as high as $22, $23 and as low as $7 or $8. It just depends on how big the trees are and how old they are,” said Tim Wilson, who is working as a consultant at MS Peanut Company just outside of Aberdeen.
The program isn’t specific to any type of trees being grown. He said it determines how much carbon is being sequestered in the green wood and in the ground. He added the bigger the tree, the more carbon intake it has.
“You get one harvest-deferred credit for every 25 tons of green wood that’s determined that could be harvested or might be harvested in a year,” Wilson said.
He said bigger companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Shell and Chevron, are funding the credits rather than any government entity.
“Private industry wants to have reduced carbon emissions, or net zero, but they’re still putting out the same amount of carbon. They’re using these carbon credits to show they’re making a difference in the environment. If they have so many carbon emissions for their business, they buy these carbon timber credits and can show their net emissions they’re paying for is this. In other words, they’re saying, ‘We’re doing this much pollution but we’re mitigating it with this, so our net pollution is this,’” Wilson said.
He said the carbon credits program are for one year at a time.
“If you decide to harvest or thin specific acres, then those acres can be removed. If you don’t thin or harvest after the year period, they’ll look at aerials and determine what you’re not thinning and harvesting and you’ll get paid on those acres. There are no penalties and no problems. It’s a pretty simple program,” said Wilson, who can assist people in registering.
As of right now, carbon credits are limited to tree owners, and there’s work being done to make crops and pastures eligible.
“If we can help anyone, we’ll be happy to get them in the program and we’re happy to explain it to them. It’s a really simple program, and there’s really no reason for landowners to not sign up,” Wilson said.