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Study Assesses Private Forest Landowner Attitudes Towards Forest Carbon Management and Carbon Credit Trading

Photo of Afforestation is one means of increasing forest carbon storage. S.A. Snyder, USDA Forest ServiceAfforestation is one means of increasing forest carbon storage. S.A. Snyder, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Forest lands, if managed in certain ways, can store excess atmospheric carbon, a key contributor to global climate change. This accumulated carbon can be sold as carbon credits in a carbon market, provided a number of program requirements are met. However, little is known about private landowner interest in managing lands for carbon storage or participating in carbon markets. Forest Service research found that private forest landowners with favorable attitudes toward carbon management or carbon market participation may view these activities as the vehicle by which other forest goals can be met.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Snyder, Stephanie 
Research Location : Michigan; Minnesota; Wisconsin
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 624


If forest carbon management activities are to have a meaningful role in national carbon sequestration efforts, private forest landowners will likely need to play a significant role. Forest Service scientists and university partners conducted focus groups with private forest landowners in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin to gain greater understanding into landowner attitudes toward carbon management and carbon market participation. Results suggest that landowners prefer higher carbon credit payments and shorter contract lengths than those currently offered in carbon market platforms. Landowners with the greatest interest in participating in carbon markets see carbon management as way to make changes that would improve the quality of their forestland. Conversely, landowners who are satisfied with the quality of their forestland or the way in which it is currently managed are less interested in participating in forest carbon markets. Overall, scientists found greater interest in the personal benefits that landowners might attain from carbon management, rather than the public good of reducing carbon levels. Research suggests that carbon market participation may not be the most effective means of encouraging forest landowners to sequester carbon, and that opportunities may exist to promote carbon management through existing forest landowner assistance programs.

Additional Resources

Publication(external web site)

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Dr. Michael Kilgore, Dr. Mae Davenport, Dr. Kristell Miller. All in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota.