The Economic and Environmental Value of Forests

Lynne Kiesling

The New York Times has an interesting article on how the growth of carbon markets enables us to quantify the environmental value of forests.

The researchers found that paying to conserve the forest was more valuable than plantations as long as poorer nations could earn $10 to $33 for each metric ton of CO2 saved. Currently a credit representing a metric ton of CO2 sells for about $20 in the European Union, which has the world’s largest greenhouse gas trading system.

In addition, the researchers found that peat forest areas, where stored carbon is most abundant and thus cheapest to manage, contained almost twice the mammal species density as other areas of forest.

Of course, anyone who has followed the development and the membership of the Chicago Climate Exchange will not be surprised by that finding; note the number of forestry members of the CCX. The CCX also illustrates the value of having private parties come together voluntarily to determine mutually beneficial use rights in the common-pool resource that is the climate system, even without a bureaucratically-determined cap.