Conservation

A City Earns Revenue From NOT Cutting Its Timberland

Oregon Forest - Mark Hogan/Flickr

Source: Marketplace (incl Audio)

Oregon forests from the Astoria Column.
Source: Mark Hogan/Flickr

Astoria, Oregon, the oldest American settlement on the West Coast, is the first city to raise money on the burgeoning carbon markets. Instead of harvesting trees for timber, Astoria will make money by maintaining its forest.

Astoria owns more than 37,000 acres surrounding its watershed, which is more than 10 miles from town. Around the reservoir, the forest is dense with spruce, hemlock and Douglas fir.

But outside the property boundaries, whole hillsides have been reduced to a sea of stumps.

He said purchasing the carbon credits “is providing them an incentive not to cut.

Looking at an aerial map, Astoria’s forester, Mike Barnes, pointed out areas that have been clear-cut. “All this is gone,” he said. “This is gone. Gone, gone, gone.”

Astoria could cut as much as 3 percent of its forest every year. Instead, city leaders decided to cut fewer trees and try something new. “We’re forgoing increased harvests in the future,” Barnes said, “and staying at a low level and monetizing the carbon that we’re sequestering.”

An Oregon law requires power companies to compensate for their emissions. One way is to buy and conserve forests, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

In return for protecting some trees for 40 years, Astoria will get $2 million.

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