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Posted: June 27, 2010 12:01 a.m.

Keeping Forests in Forests program helps clean Georgia’s air

Unique carbon offset program keeps environmental investments in Georgia

Trees preserved as part of the Keeping Forests in Forests (KFIF) carbon offset program helped clean Georgia’s air by sequestering 7,816 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MtCO2e) since the program was launched in March 2009. The sequestration figures are included in a report prepared for the Carbon TreeBank, LLC – one of three partners in the Keeping Forests in Forests initiative – by Forecon EcoMarket Solutions, LLC, an independent environmental sciences consultant hired to verify program results.

"We developed the Keeping Forests in Forests program as a sustainable means of providing carbon offsets for Georgia homes and businesses, and with a scientifically-based method of verifying how much carbon is being sequestered by the very trees that are being preserved for that purpose," said Dean Alford, spokesperson for KFIF partner organization Power4Georgians. "That we can verify more than 7,800 metric tons of carbon have been sequestered over the past year not only demonstrates the positive impact of the program but also the credibility of our methods and results."

Keeping Forests in Forests was launched in March 2009 as a partnership of Power4Georgians, the Carbon TreeBank and Wells Timberland. The program uses Georgia timberlands to mitigate CO2 in the environment and is available to all members of the EMCs that are part of the Power4Georgians consortium. Participants can offset all or just a portion of their household carbon footprint for a small surcharge (ranging from $5 to $12.50) added to their monthly electric bills. These fees are used to help preserve forestland in Georgia that might otherwise be harvested or cleared.

Wells Timberland, a real estate investment company that has been awarded the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification for responsible forestry, designates timberland acreage in west Georgia for preservation for the KFIF program. The 2,705 acres of pre-merchantable loblolly and sand pine plantations on which the current sequestration report is based are located in Marion County, Georgia.

The report validates carbon sequestration rates using established scientific methods that assess the particular characteristics of the tree stands including their age, diameter and height. Total annual above ground living tree biomass (excluding foliage) values were converted to carbon dioxide equivalents using industry standard calculations. All values in the report are expressed in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MtCO2e), the international unit of measure for a single carbon credit for trading purposes. The report found that trees in the KFIF program have sequestered 7,816 MtCO2e since the program began, providing a like number of carbon credits that can be used by program participants.

"In keeping with Power4Georgians’ mission to develop energy and environmental strategies that provide economic benefits for our state and its residents, this program benefits Georgia’s citizens, Georgia’s tree growers and has a positive impact on Georgia’s environment," Alford added. "Because Keeping Forests in Forests also keeps environmental investments right here in Georgia, we will continue to work to expand both the amount of acreage under management for sequestration purposes as well as opportunities for more Georgia residents to participate."

In addition to its exclusive Georgia focus, Alford said the KFIF project is distinguished from many other carbon offset programs by solid science and methodology. Much of the information used to develop the program is based on Duke University’s Forest-Atmosphere Carbon Transfer and Storage Experiment (FACE), a U.S. Department of Energy-funded study begun in 1994 to measure the reaction of forests to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2, which is essential to plant life. Additional technical assistance and research is provided by the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

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