Tree planting and forest protection have many beneficial effects, and they are very useful acts.
But it is only suitable for carbon offset with special commitment and conditions. The carbon credit created by tree planting and forest protection may be destroyed later, depending on the fate of the forest.
THE CO2 SEQUESTERED HAS MANY HAZARDS: in addition to specimen death (in case of tree planting) and felling, fallover, withering, forest fires, pests, rotting, game damage, etc. Even in the case of carbon sequestration, the captured CO2 is returned to the atmosphere, in other words, the carbon credit used in the meantime for carbon offset is destroyed, and the carbon offset becomes invalid. If the CO2 sequestered in the forest is released back into the atmosphere in 20 or even 50 years, it does not count as climate protection.
So the organizations dealing with carbon offset via forest protection and tree planting need to take the responsibility of securing the carbon sequestration forever, which responsibility is transferred to the forest’s future owners/operators. This responsibility means that whenever and to whatever extent the amount of CO2 sequestered by the forest drops, then THE CARBON CREDITS USED FOR CARBON OFFSET, BUT DESTROYED BY THE LOWERING CO2-BALANCE OF THE FOREST NEEDS TO BE REPLACED BY OTHER SOURCES. In other words, the forest’s negative carbon balance (CO2 emission) gets offset.
The Carbon Balance has to be assessed at the starting position, and needs to be calculated from year to year:
OPENING BALANCE: STARTING POSITION (E.G. STATE OF THE SOIL), AND PLUS AND MINUS:
(+) The CO2 sequestered in the wood mass of the trees, or the saplings planted;
(–) The carbon footprint from the creation and planting of the saplings, or from the measurement of the forest area’s wood mass;
If the opening balance is negative (which is also typical of the solar farms or wind farms at their onset, which can only start to produce useable carbon credits after they have offset the carbon footprint of their creation), then THE CREATION OF THE TREE PLANTATION HAS TO BE OFFSET BY ALREADY EXISTING CARBON CREDITS.
SIMILARLY, ANY PROJECT (e.g. an event) NEEDS TO BE OFFSET BY USING ALTREADY EXISTING CARBON CREDITS, even if the emissions of the project was supposed to be offset by the tree planting.
The price of the carbon credits derived from the treeplanting can only be compared with the international average price on the long run, because its initial capital-, and labor investment is high, but LATER ON, IT PRODUCES CARBON CREDITS ALMOST WITHOUT COSTS. The difference can also be explained by, for example, green energy farms have a primary income (from selling the electricity produced), the carbon credit is only a secondary result. But planting trees has many other beneficial advantages besides climate protection. It’s an investment into the future. But when a project has to be IMMEDIATELY OFFSET, IT CANNOT BE DONE SO WITH A PROMISE, ONLY WITH ALREADY EXISTING CARBON CREDITS. This is the hard core in the fruit, which makes it unassailable.
YEARLY BALANCE CHANGES PLUS AND MINUS:
(+) Additional planting, e.g. replacing unsuccessful plantations;
(+) CO2 sequestration increase (wood mass increase, or biomass increase in the soil);
(–) Tree doesn’t survive, falls over, putrefies, withers, top dries out, game damage, pests, forest fires, soil degradation, etc.;
(–) Carbon footprint of tending trees, forestry, and decrease in CO2-seqestration due to logging;
When the balance change is in the positive, then newer credits are created.
When it is negative, it has to be subtracted in the registry, or if it has already been used, then it has to be offset. Otherwise, offsetting with the previously used, but destroyed credits would become invalid.
When the owner/operator changes, the liability imposed on the territory also has to be transferred, and the respobsibilities have to be taken! The forest is burdened with a liability that if the number of carbon credits used for carbon offset decreases (e.g. the trees responsible for carbon credits already used get destroyed in a forest fire), then THE DESTROYED CARBON CREDITS HAVE TO BE REPLACED FROM ANOTHER SOURCE, the forest’s CO2 emission has to be offset immeadiately! The price of the forest burdened with this liability has to reflect this when selling it.
The protection of extant forests is similar: the CO2 sequestration balance of the starting position gets into the registry as tha basic situation, and the report responsibility emerges. From that moment on, its negative changes (including the carbon footprint of the forest management) has to be offset, and cabon credit is created by the positive changes.
Eternal forest after 100-150 years may be in a CO2 balance, but they would still have the liability. If it would be logged, burned, withered, etc. it needs to be offset. This is similar to the price of changing the type of cultivation. So tree planting and forest protection projects, and their current owners have a regular report responsibility towards the registry, forever.
The following references and articles show how unpredictable the future of forests is, so no kind of estimation may be used, only the yearly carbon balance repor to the registry is reliable.
Excerpt from the tree plantation-climate protection relation from the book of Balázs Horváth about the issue:
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT and unsustainability
„I think this is a very good idea, at least I don't see any flaw or deficiency in it.” Balázs Horváth
„Finally a standard, which helps to navigate, and avoid greenwashing for those who wish to get involved in tree planting and forest protection." László A. Rampasek