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May 04, 2009

Reforestation Plays a Growing Role in Corporate Carbon Offset Strategies
    by Robert Kropp

Report finds that many companies are purchasing forest carbon offset credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offer carbon-neutral products and services to customers. -- Even before the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, some corporations had developed forest carbon offset projects to reduce deforestation pressures and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By 2007, according to a recently published report entitled The Forest Carbon Offsetting Survey 2009, forest carbon offsets accounted for 18% of the voluntary carbon market.

The 141 respondents to the survey whose findings were incorporated into the report included financial services companies and professional services, as well as companies from the transport and aviation, energy and utilities, and information technology industry sectors. According to the report, companies in these sectors often purchase offsets not only to address their own GHG emissions, but to offer carbon-neutral products and services to their customers as well. A total of 21 responses were received from specialized carbon-offsetting companies.

The report found that most of the companies surveyed reported positive attitudes toward forest carbon offset projects, especially in North America. About 7.6 million forest carbon offsets, or the equivalent of at least 855,000 tons of carbon, were purchased in the last year. The primary motivations for purchasing forest carbon offsets include community and environmental benefits, the scale of the problem of global climate change, and the carbon storage properties of trees.

The report concludes that the forest sector has "the potential to achieve broad sustainable development benefits that go beyond emission abatement measures." Reforestation can improve livelihoods by increasing employment and the supply of forest-related products and services, benefit biodiversity by protecting habitats, restore degraded lands to production, and provide long-term support for local economies.

Four organizations collaborated in the production of the report. EcoSecurities works with companies to create emission reduction credits from projects that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Conservation International is an international conservation non-governmental organization (NGO) whose climate change program includes the development of incentives for the protection and restoration of tropical forests.

The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) is a partnership between companies, NGOs, and research institutes seeking to promote solutions to land management that minimize climate change, support sustainable development, and conserve biodiversity. is resource on climate management strategies for corporations seeking to reduce their carbon footprints.

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