Carbon and forests

John Shuey jshuey at TNC.ORG
Thu Jul 10 08:52:13 EDT 2003

Responding to Mike's comments, which are very valid -

Indiana is the heart of the corn belt - so most of the reforestation is soy
bean or corn conversion.  The pastures that we have (or had) are mostly
fescue or reed canary grass, which have incredibly low value for wildlife.

But that doesn't mean that we ignore grasslands either.  You can access the
first phase of a carbon sequestration report we have developed for Kankakee
Sands at the web site below.

Phase two of this work is to evaluate the "economic value" of the carbon
sequestration to determine if there is a market for the product (already
have a potentially interested utility taking a look at the report).

The problem with grassland restoration is that it costs us about twice as
much per acre (~$1k/acre) to restore high-quality prairie as it does to
plant trees - and prairie sequesters less carbon over the long-run than does
a forest restoration.  So, I doubt that that we will ever find a utility
that is wiling to pay for the entire costs of grassland restoration under
today's economic assumptions (i.e. speculative market for credits) - but
even if they paid for the costs of the monocots (about 50 core species at
Ksands), the cumulative value at a project the size of Ksands would be quite
substantial.  FYI - once completed, Ksands is estimated to be a $20M
conservation project - we have expended about 60% of that as of this year.

If you want to know more about Ksands go to:

Of relevance to this list, one of the primary targets (or indicators of
success for the restoration) is the prairie and savanna butterfly community.
The birds are targets too, but they're so easy...  if you build it, they
will come..... and we now have two species nesting on the site that had not
nested in Indiana in over 40 years.  Butterflies are much more picky.

John Shuey
Director of Conservation Science
Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Gochfeld [mailto:gochfeld at]
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 6:17 AM
To: jshuey at
Cc: Leps List
Subject: Carbon and forests

Interesting and disturbing story that John provides about carbon credits.
It is
complex and worthy of an intricate mystery writer.

But it raised a separate concern in my mind.
In New Jersey today we have more forest cover than a century ago.
Conservationists have cherished forests (after all in the east it is our
But what we desperately lack are grasslands and their associated fauna.
grassland bird species are in steep decline (at least in NJ).
Last week in central NY I heard a Meadowlark song----and realized how long
had been since I heard that once familiar voice.

Fortunately butterflies seem more tolerant of fragmented meadows, but we
need to
develop a conservation ethic for early successional stages.

A forest planted is a grassland lost.


John Shuey wrote:

> Perhaps the best evidence of the acceptance of the reality of global
> among industry types is how badly they want to acquire "carbon credits" on
> the assumption that t some future date, these credits will become a valued
> commodity.  In the Midwest, where forest fragmentation, patch size and
> effect are huge conservation issues, we have been swamped with power
> funding for reforestation.  Over the last 6-7 years, we have literally
> planted every old field at TNC and partner conservation sites available. I
> think we passed the 2M trees planted mark on TNC land last year.  And we
> scaled back an offer of more funding over the next three years by 75% - we
> simply don't have any land that needs to be planted anymore. (although
> time you buy a forest in Indiana, it likely comes with a field of some
> sort).
> So while we get buffers to our preserves reforested for free and some
> time covered as part of the deal - what may you ask are the power
> getting?  They get a speculatively low price on carbon sequestration
> for the next 40 years on the site (they cover all of our costs - about
> $550/acre).  If carbon credit trading becomes a reality (as outlined in
> Kyoto protocol), they will "own X-number of credits for tons of carbon (by
> the way - the utilities are responsible for the monitoring of carbon
> sequestration during the 40 years - all we do is document baseline
> conditions at the time of initial planting).  Once carbon trading becomes
> reality (and the credits actually have "value") - the utilities expect to
> pay a premium to acquire the credits (and as a non-profit, we would have
> charge full market value for the credits by law - what ever the going rate
> for a carbon credit might be at that time).
> So, utilities are paying fro the cost of reforestation now, speculating
> at some point in the future, their investment will be worth quite a bit
> more.  Given the amount of money that they are paying (at our little
> we planted about $700K worth of trees over the last few years), my guess
> that they are betting that the recommendations of the Kyoto summit will
> become accepted in the US.
> As an aside, one of the utilities has upped the ante, and is willing to
> a few hundred dollars per acre to help TNC acquire a conservation easement
> on lands within our preserve designs (in addition to the costs of
> reforestation).  They hope that this would help us to convince private
> landowners adjacent to our holdings to participate in the program.   You -
> the landowner get your land reforested for free, plus $2-3 hundred bucks
> acre in your pocket - and the credits of course go to ....
> If Ohio River Valley power companies (coal burning by the way) think that
> Kyoto will be adapted in the good 'ole USA, then there must be something
> all this global warming stuff.
> _________________
> John Shuey
> Director of Conservation Science
> Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-leps-l at [mailto:owner-leps-l at]On
> Behalf Of Stanley A. Gorodenski
> Sent: Wednesday, July 9, 2003 1:30 PM
> To: Leps List
> Subject: Re: leps-list not dead, but sleeping
> Mark Walker wrote:
> > That's very interesting - because "global warming" has indeed been
> > propagated by the media AND various lobbyists as a "global trend" - that
> is,
> I disagree. I have read Science (published by the American Association for
> the
> Advancement of Science) for over 10 years. _Numerous_ research results
> been
> presented related to global warming and climate change during this time.
> These
> were by researchers, not media and lobbyists. The common lay person does
> read Science and other scientific journals to get information on global
> warming.
> The media fills this gap, but because it is fulfilling a function for
> it
> was designed, it would be inappropriate to therefore say that the media is
> responsible for 'crying wolf' or spreading hysteria, so to speak. With
> respect
> to lobbyists, what sort of lobbyists are you referring to? I am sure the
> Exxons
> are not lobbying to reduce the consumption of oil because of global
> considerations.
> Stan
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