Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 677–690

A virtual “field test” of forest management carbon offset protocols: the influence of accounting

  • Christopher S. Galik
  • Megan L. Mobley
  • Daniel deB. Richter
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11027-009-9190-9

Cite this article as:
Galik, C.S., Mobley, M.L. & deB. Richter, D. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2009) 14: 677. doi:10.1007/s11027-009-9190-9


Of the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation options available from U.S. forests and agricultural lands, forest management presents amongst the lowest cost and highest volume opportunities. A number of carbon (C) accounting schemes or protocols have recently emerged to track the mitigation achieved by individual forest management projects. Using 50-year C cycling data from the Calhoun Experimental Forest in South Carolina, USA, C storage is estimated for a hypothetical forest management C offset project operating under seven of these protocols. After 100 years of project implementation, net C sequestration among the seven protocols varies by nearly a full order of magnitude. This variation stems from differences in how individual C pools, baseline, leakage, certainty, and buffers are addressed under each protocol. This in turn translates to a wide variation in the C price required to match the net present value of the non-project, business-as-usual alternative. Collectively, these findings suggest that protocol-specific restrictions or requirements are likely to discount the amount of C that can be claimed in “real world” projects, potentially leading to higher project costs than estimated in previous aggregate national analyses.


Carbon offsetsCarbon sequestrationForest managementOffset markets

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Galik
    • 1
    • 3
  • Megan L. Mobley
    • 2
  • Daniel deB. Richter
    • 2
  1. 1.Climate Change Policy PartnershipDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Nicholas School of the Environment and University Program in EcologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA