Carbon Sequestration FAQs


If you would like addition information about Carbon Sequestration contact your local
Alabama Forestry Commission office.

Why is it important to store Carbon?

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air had been relatively constant for ten thousand years until the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. Since then, the world’s population has grown tremendously, as has the use of coal, oil, and natural gas.

Because CO2 is a primary product of combustion, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been on the rise. At the same time, average temperatures throughout much of the world have inched up and other climatic changes have been documented, indicating a connection between our use of fossil fuels and climatic effects.

Although total implications are not known, the majority of the scientific community feels strongly that continued unchecked growth of CO2 releases into the atmosphere will have very negative effects on our environment. To effectively reduce CO2 emissions, we must find alternative clean sources of energy as well as encourage the development of “carbon sinks” where atmospheric carbon is removed from the air and stored such that it will not negatively affect our environment.

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What is Carbon Sequestration?

The removal of carbon from the atmosphere is the process of carbon sequestration. This can be accomplished by storing atmospheric carbon into the ground, water, or into vegetation.

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How do trees play a role in Carbon Sequestration?

Trees take in CO2 from the air in the process called photosynthesis. The tree effectively breaks down the CO2, stores the carbon in all parts of the tree, and releases the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Fast growing trees are, in fact, the most efficient way to sequester atmospheric carbon.

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What are Carbon Credits and how are they determined?

A “carbon credit” is a market term. Carbon storage in trees is usually measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). Trees are roughly 50% carbon, based on dry weight. One ton of carbon equals 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Therefore, the amount of carbon credits on your property can be computed based on a forest inventory cruise of your property to determine the timber volume by weight. Some factors that will affect the amount of carbon sequestered in your forest will be the age of the trees, stocking levels, species, and site index of the soil.

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What things should I consider before signing up? How do I decide if I should participate?

The carbon market has been established in the U.S. but it is in its infancy. There are still many unknowns. Forest landowners should be able to benefit from the increased interest in carbon trading either through direct sequestration or revenue sharing with power generation facilities. The decision to participate in the carbon market will be heavily influenced by factors such as the commitment period required, associated fees, market access, inventory methods, and silvicultural treatments.

Only after careful consideration and consultation with professionals experienced in this subject matter, should a decision to participate be made. You should also fully consider how your short- and long-term management objectives will be impacted from participating.

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What is the value of a Carbon Credit?

Because this market is voluntary, the value of a carbon credit remains relatively low. If Congress passes cap and trade legislation requiring reduced emissions, the value of a carbon credit is expected to increase significantly.

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Are there restrictions on my property? Will it affect my management scheme?

The landowner agrees to store carbon in his trees for the period of the contract. That in turn restricts his ability to harvest timber or clear timber land for any other purpose. He may still be able to prescribe burn and conduct other forest management activities during the contract period. After the contract period, he may be able to harvest his trees when he chooses. Planning for future needs such as food plots and roads becomes very important.

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Is the contract “legally binding”?

Yes. The contract is legally binding and follows the landowner that signed the contract.

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How do I start the process of enrollment?

Most landowners wanting to enroll will need to work with an aggregator. The landowner and aggregator will enter into a contract that specifies all eligibility requirements and terms and conditions for participation. It is advisable to utilize the services of a registered forester and attorney or tax adviser when entering into any legally binding contracts.

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Can I sell land that I have enrolled in a carbon storage program?

Most contracts include an "opt out" policy, but the landowner usually must pay back previous earnings and/or penalties. Please review your contract for details.

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Will my enrolled land be subject to an audit?


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Additional Resources:

- Carbon Sequestration
- How much carbon have your trees stored?
- Carbon Sequestration Publications
- Carbon Sequestration Websites

The Alabama Forestry Commission is currently updating information on the Carbon Sequestration Webpage as new developments occur. Please periodically check this website for new updates.

For more information contact:
Alabama Forestry Commission