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Value of BC forests in carbon credits dwarfs stumpage revenue, says global nature-based investment expert

Transition from clearcutting to partial harvests, thinning, wildfire interface predicted

Forest managers are missing out on huge financial opportunities by concentrating on timber cutting and not including alternatives such as carbon credits in their operations, a forestry expert told a UBC Future Forests webinar.

David Brand, CEO of New Forests, a global nature-based investment manager with $10 billion in assets, made a calculation based on “net present value” at a 10 percent discount rate, an estimate that roughly translates future returns in today’s dollar value.

Brand said his calculation used New Zealand’s carbon price of about $85 per tonne of carbon sequestered in standing forests, and estimated a sequestration rate of three tonnes per hectare per year in BC’s working forests.

On that basis, Brand, former director-general of science and sustainable development with the Canadian Forest Service, told UBC on Dec. 1 that the current carbon value of BC’s forests is about $50 billion, with the potential to produce annual revenues of $5 billion, which compares with closer to $1 billion per year from stumpage revenue.

In other words, the carbon-credit value of BC’s forests is five times that of stumpage.

No one is arguing to shut down the forest industry in favour of selling carbon credits.

But Brand said if carbon and timber values were allowed to “float and drive land management you would get tremendous investment in landscape resilience and engineering landscapes for both climate and wood products.…”

Carbon credits figure prominently in the scenarios the UBC Partnership Group has presented to North Cowichan council related to future management of the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve.

Read more: https://bit.ly/3F3uXNv

Fellow panelist at the UBC webinar, Domenico Iannidinardo — chief forester for Mosaic Forest Management, BC’s biggest holder of private forest lands — called Brand a “guru” for his forward thinking.

“A lot of people just can’t put it together,” Iannidinardo said. “We’re wasting value in BC is what he’s saying, politely, and the sooner we allow that equilibrium to surface and resonate with people…you’ll find transitional jobs for people that maybe used to do clearcuts and now they’re working" on partial harvests, thinning, wildfire interface, etc.

“All of that could be self-reinforcing, self-funding with timber and carbon and hopefully one day continue to provide public and private values that we just can’t get at right now… Lots of opportunity there.”

Moderator of the webinar, Linda Coady, president and CEO of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries, added that in weighing forest products versus carbon credits “what the panelists are saying, it’s both. It's multiple pathways and other pathways, as well, and that the forests are large enough and complex enough to be involved in all of those.”

Link to the webinar: https://forestry.ubc.ca/events/future-forests-webinar/

Mosaic announced in March it is deferring logging on 40,000 hectares for at least 25 years to pursue the sale of carbon credits.

Eighty percent of those lands are at least 120 years old (half of them true old-growth, older than 250 years) and 20 percent are 40 to 120 years old.

Mosaic says it is willing to partner with municipalities — including North Cowichan — private landowners and First Nations who are interested in preserving forest lands through the sale of carbon credits.

(photos, clockwise: Linda Coady, David Brand, Domenico Iannidinardo)

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— Larry Pynn Dec. 5, 2022

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