Carbon Credit Income

Determining your forest carbon credit options

Forestland owners have a new market for their trees. Letting them stand, grow and naturally keep absorbing CO2 across the forest landscape. This market has been available to large landowners (tens to hundreds of thousands of acre landowners) for about 7 years from a real market sense. The market opened in California in 2013. What has recently occurred in 2021 is that this somewhat closed market for large forestland owners, has now opened up (somewhat) for smaller private non-industrial landowners (NILO’s). Currently there a five (5) forest carbon or forest carbon offset programs out there on the market for private forestland owners. They all have the same goal of removing CO2 from standing trees, left not harvested for timber, but the VARY DRASTICALLY in terms of strings attached and commitment periods in years to letting the trees stand and not harvesting for timber income. This is where it can get tricky. We provide landowners with the information they need to make the right or best decision based on all facets of the forest, timber conditions and owner’s financial objectives.

Best forest carbon program fit

This new market for forestland owners is exciting and unique but it’s not something that the typical owner will want to jump head first into without weighing all options in regard to:
  1. How much is the estimated annual carbon credit income to owner?
  2. How long will I have to commit to deferring my timber sale or possibly not have the opportunity to sell any timber or make timber income at all?
  3. Will my land be encumbered with a conservation easement that restricts land use and future development?
  4. What happens if I change my mind or my land, forest or financial situation changes in the future?
  5. How do I determine the “best” forest carbon program for me and my land?
  6. Should I pass or defer on forest carbon income for now and focus on other sources of land and forest income such as timber sales, hunt leasing, recreational use leasing, non-timber forest products development, etc.?
  7. How do I get a forest carbon knowledgeable forester on the ground to explain the programs and my options?

Forest Carbon Programs Guidance & Advisory

Kanawha Forestry foresters are forest carbon knowledgeable. We have had boots on the ground on thousands of acres of forest carbon projects in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. We have a good working knowledge of how these programs and commitments work and how much income may be generated to owners. We also can provide answers to the often bigger question that is “How much future timber income will I be forfeiting under a forest carbon program?” We advise all landowners to consider the new forest carbon market opportunities as another possible income stream in addition to timber sales and management, land leasing income, land asset appreciation through land and forest management and development and more land income services and marketplaces we have available for owners. Forest carbon can be one piece of the pie for a good land income management plan and goals. Land income use and diversity are key. Due to the long term impacts we caution against throwing all your eggs into one basket, whether, timber sales, carbon or other land income generators that can adverse effects on the back end if not planned properly.


On the web of course, but a word of caution. There are a lot of people and businesses trying to jump on the “forest carbon market and income” band wagon. Some are legitimate, some are not in our opinion. We can tell you that you are not going to get rich by enrolling your forestlands in a forest carbon program and carbon credit market. These markets are very conditioned based and dependent our your forest’s current conditions for tree/timber size, stocking volume, tree counts, etc.
Contact a forest carbon knowledgeable forester. This is a new market and many foresters are not up to snuff on these market dynamics yet. So make sure your forester or advisor is forest carbon markets knowledgeable.
Yes, but maybe not. And if you do sell timber under a forest carbon program it will be far less, up to 95% less than what you could have sold otherwise. With this being the case, these programs are important, conditions based, financial decisions for owners. In addition to timber income considerations, land value considerations must be considered also.

Extremely variable! From 1 year to 120 years, depending on the program.

Forest, land and timber analytics and advisory, very specific to your land, forest, financial objectives and environmental goals are extremely important. We suggest considering forest carbon income as just one of the possible land and forest income streams from your managed lands. At this time, we don’t recommend any commitment, legal agreement signed to forest carbon until a land and forest management plan and program is in place on the land and forest first.