Laura Henry-Stone, PhD
David Perault, PhD
Price Blair, PhD
Cap and trade programs limit the amount of emissions an organization can produce. To neutralize unavoidable emissions, organizations can purchase carbon offsets from the carbon market. The ability to quantify greenhouse gas emissions offsets in forests increased the urgency and popularity of the carbon market because carbon dioxide (CO2) has a large role in climate change. The University of Lynchburg’s Claytor Nature Center’s 332-acre forest could be a viable revenue source because of its ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. In this research, the potential number of annual offsets from Claytor Forest was measured through a manual biomass survey. I assessed tree quantity, size, height, and species in 1/10-acre samples and used existing biomass equations to calculate how much profit the forest could bring to the university and which tree species are best to plant for maximum profit and emissions reductions. A cost benefit analysis of this forest offset project was conducted because the school previously purchased credits from the market to be considered “Carbon-neutral.” Instead, forest generated offsets will be purchased from the university by others seeking neutrality. This research is important because the school is experiencing a budget deficit and with the utilization of Claytor Forest the university could overcome financial struggles and be motivated to reduce our emissions directly. Campuses and communities can play a large role with the strategic environmental planning of their land. With the exponential growth of carbon’s economic value, I also assigned economic value to Claytor Forest’s community benefits and global impact since the forest provides a variety of significant services beyond GHG emissions removal. This research assigns economic worth to land that previously only had intrinsic value and allows everyone to grasp the positive impact of every single tree in the global fight against climate change. This research investigates and offers potential solutions to three key questions. Can the biomass of Claytor forest offset a considerable amount of the University’s emissions to help retain carbon neutrality? Will the revenue of the carbon offsets be able to support the school during the financial deficit? Is the carbon market an appropriate method to mitigating climate change?
McCollum, Sarah, "The Forest of Claytor Nature Center as a Carbon Offset; Assessing the Sequestration Potential and Socioeconomic Implications" (2023). Undergraduate Theses and Capstone Projects. 277.