Forestry offset schemes and biodiversity in the US

As noted in Chapter 2, forestry has the potential to offset a large proportion of emissions in the US. Presently, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is North America's only active voluntary, but legally binding trading system aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. CXX members who cannot reduce their own emissions can purchase credits from those who make extra emission cuts through eligible offsets, of which afforestation is one.10 However, the CXX does not differentiate between types of afforestation, that is whether they are of native species or exotic monocultures.

Oregon has established a program for creating forestry carbon offsets from non-federal forestlands and requires the State Forester to develop a forestry carbon offset accounting system (Oregon Legislative Assembly, 2001). Effective in January 2002, the bill defines a forestry carbon offset and authorizes the State Forester to enter into agreements with non-federal forest landowners as a means to market, register, transfer or sell offsets on behalf of non-federal landowners. It also allows the State Forester to market, register, transfer or sell offsets on behalf of the Forest Resource Trust. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) of ten eastern states has been drafted with the inclusion of forestry offsets. California also has a cap and trade scheme to control emissions in the draft stage; this includes forestry but the details of how forestry will be treated are to be determined. Non-government organizations in the US have urged that only plantings of native species (RGGI, 2008a) or mixed native species (RGGI, 2008b) should be allowed as offsets.

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