World leaders recently reaffirmed its commitment to combating climate change, by signing the Paris Agreement. The United States opted out of the global agreement. In response, several States formed the United States Climate Alliance. Reducing the carbon dioxide emissions is one opportunity to reduce the potential threat of climate change.
In 2016 Sealaska set aside about 155,000 acres of land for a carbon bank program. Some of the lands have never been harvested like watersheds, while others have had minimal selective harvesting. Sealaska took the effort to analyze the best opportunity for these lands to create financial and community benefit, while also protecting the sensitive and culturally important areas from harvest. The ability to sell carbon credits in the carbon bank program, creating an alternative revenue source for Sealaska lands was considered the best use for the acres of land involved in this project. The project also provides flexibility to pursue development on the lands within the project through the ability to harvest the growth of the forest.
“Instead of harvesting 155,000 acres that don’t fit well within our traditional harvest, we can earn money by storing carbon,” said Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott. “The sale of carbon credits will offer Sealaska opportunities to grow our business, invest in our communities and create value and benefits for our shareholders.”
Sealaska is working with the California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board (ARB). The ARB is verifying the amount of carbon that is being stored in Sealaska forests. An independent third party verifies the amount of carbon on Sealaska land and then issues Sealaska carbon credits. Sealaska can offer the credits for sale to a buyer who has the need to offset carbon emissions. Sealaska carbon credits should be available for sale by at least early 2018.
“We continue to find opportunities to increase the financial, cultural and community benefit from our land ownership” said Richard Rinehart, chair of the Haa Aani board, which oversees Sealaska’s Natural Resource efforts. “Placing lands into a carbon bank program while operating a sustainable forestry program, represents Sealaska board and managements’ approach to balanced land management.”
The 155,000 acres will still be accessible to shareholders for subsistence and other natural harvest activities as well as open for harvesting of trees for cultural projects. One of the components of the project allows Sealaska to harvest the growth of the forest within the project area. The ability to harvest our growth will allow us to pursue other development opportunities on the project lands, such as real estate development, mineral development or any other development requiring acreage to be cut. This is a significant factor in limiting the opportunity cost of these lands within the project time period of 110 years, since we retain the opportunity to develop or pursue other business from our lands that could provide further benefit.
This project will provide significant financial benefit to Sealaska, it will protect sensitive and cultural areas, and also provide an opportunity to raise awareness around carbon and climate change. The carbon project ties our land management efforts with our environmental services business, which is also working to provide land and marine monitoring and scientific research to address our changing environment.
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