Carbon in Minnesota’s Forests report is released

The report describes potential opportunities for the state's carbon programs

MADISON, Wis. – A report that details carbon in Minnesota forests and gives an initial description of opportunities that may exist for carbon programs in the state was distributed in August by the Minnesota Forest Resources Council. The report was prepared by the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota after engaging with a wide range of people working for both government and private entities in the field.

A goal of the report was to outline the “scope” of a Minnesota Forest Carbon Strategic Plan.

It describes the growth of carbon stocks in Minnesota forests of almost 100 million metric tons from 1990 to 2020 (growth of 8.3%). “The carbon flux in trees indicates a continual removal of carbon from the atmosphere over the last 30 years.” The increase from 2020 comes largely from an increase in the “above ground biomass pools.” (Carbon is also stored in root structures, forest soil and other elements of the forest.)

The report puts forward three potential alternative forest management strategies and notes potential consequences of each on four different forest types: red pine, aspen, mesic hardwood

(sugar maple, basswood, northern red oak and paper birch), and oak (northern red oak and white oak). It describes the results over the years based on output from a program called the Forest Vegetation Simulator (Lake States geographic variant). In each category the maximum carbon storage occurred between 20 and 40 years.

The report focused mainly on voluntary carbon credit markets (in which CO2 emitters voluntarily buy “credits” to offset their emissions with some of the proceeds going to landowners). These markets contrast with regulated markets that have typically only been available to large landowners that hold tens of thousands of acres and often provide larger payments to forest landowners.

The focus is on four entities that participate in voluntary carbon credit markets: Family Forest Carbon Program, NCX, Core, and Forest Carbon Works. Brief summaries of their programs are available in a table in the report.

The report also gathers data from surveys from several geographic regions in the U.S. and finds a wide range of price estimates (from $4 to $49 per credit). The average across all regional surveys was $21.60/credit.

Four possible management practices are described in the report. Forest managers surveyed rated these two practices as the most likely: 1.) increasing carbon in existing forests and products through silviculture and 2.) preventing CO2 emissions by reducing risk of fire, disease, and mortality.

The report noted the possibility of some negative impacts from carbon sequestration activities on the state’s forest products industry: “Several focus group participants stressed the need to understand the effect of regulatory and voluntary carbon market programs on available wood supply to pulp and paper manufacturers, sawmills, and other wood industries. Participants recognized that payments for carbon could compete with wood prices and impact the forest industry,” the report stated.

The full report can be found here.

Still Have Questions?

Contact us any time and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.