What's an Uncut Forest Worth?

OPB | July 31, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:43 p.m.

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Oregon’s standing forests and the global carbon market.

Way back when we did our very first show about timber payments in Oregon, one commenter suggested that the uncut trees in question might be valuable as “carbon sinks.” This came up again last week on our show about the Western Climate Initiative. As you may remember from elementary school science class, trees absorb carbon dioxide the way humans absorb oxygen, so standing trees can be very helpful in removing excess carbon from the atmosphere, which may in turn help mitigate global warming.

Companies, organizations and individuals in Oregon have all taken an interest in the idea of carbon sequestration. The basic concept is that people or companies can offset their greenhouse gas emissions by funding ways to absorb an equal amount of carbon. Northwest woodland owners hope this means they could be paid not to cut their trees for a change.

Have you ever bought an offset to reduce your own carbon footprint? What is an uncut forest worth?

GUESTS:

Photo credit: joesef.stuefer / Flickr / Creative Commons

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