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Workshop to explain carbon credit program

Officials say there could be a little light at the end of thetunnel for timber growers in the carbon market, and the LincolnCounty Extension Service is offering information about how to tapinto it in a workshop on Wednesday.

A short course at Mississippi State University will examine howagriculture and forestry sectors can benefit from proposedlegislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The coursewill be broadcast to several Extension Service offices across thestate, including Lincoln County, said Extension Director RebeccaBates.

The morning session will focus on the Waxman-MarkeyClimate/Energy Bill and the afternoon session will cover aspects ofhow contracts under the voluntary carbon system will change as thecountry moves toward a Cap and Trade System. Attendees also willlearn how to calculate carbon, reduce risks and position themselvesto contribute to the delivery of carbon offset services.

“This is an all-day program geared toward foresters andlandowners; you’ll be locked in from 8:30-4:30,” Bates said.

Mississippi State Extension Service Forester Steve Dicke saidthe carbon credits industry, which is a private industry at thistime, puts together corporations that release carbon dioxide intothe air and foresters that raise trees that consume the carbondioxide. The extension service is offering a daylong class from8:30 to 4:30 Wednesday for foresters to understand how the systemworks.

Basically, Dicke said, for every ton of wood grown, six-tenthsof a metric ton of carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere.There is still a lot to be learned about the idea, he said.

“It’s a new market,” Dicke said. “People have been sellingcarbon credits for about a year now. There are private individualswanting to buy carbon and landowners are sitting pretty good forthis because people that want to be considered green can buycredits in Mississippi and whatever carbon dioxide they release canbe offset by the accumulation of wood in Mississippi.”

Dicke said most of the industries and companies that take partin the program are located in the industrial north.

They will pay foresters to sign a 15-year contract and payanything from 50 cents to $6 per metric ton in order to be able tosay they are a “green” company. The transactions are mitigatedthrough the Chicago Climate Exchange.

“They want to show that they’re not releasing CO2 into theatmosphere. They can go to the Chicago Climate Exchange andencourage a forest landowner who agrees to manage their land acertain way, to continue to raise trees,” he said. “The reasoneveryone is scrambling is because the federal government isattempting to be big time in this … That’s one of the reasonswe’re having this big meeting is to explain what the government istrying to do as well as explain what’s existing today.”

Dicke said the agreement landowners would enter into in order toreceive carbon money would simply ask them to delay thinning theircrop or selling a harvest for 15 years. A general rule of thumb inthe timber industry, he said, is thinning in the first eight to 15years, with one every five to seven years after that.

“Someone that is releasing carbon in the atmosphere wants to paysomeone to trap it. The benefit is that this is pennies from heavenfor forest landowners,” Dicke said. “Usually you will only have toforgo a thinning or so in a 15-year period, which a lot oflandowners don’t mind. The more weight you accumulate on yourproperty, the more carbon you sequester, so they’re paying you todelay your final harvest.”

Bates said more information on the course, which is offered atseveral extension services throughout the state, is available bycalling the Extension Service at 601-835-3460.