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Environment: Brookgreen sells carbon credits from forest preserve

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Trees preserved at Brookgreen Gardens will mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in California under an agreement announced this week. “I think this is a new frontier,” said Bob Jewell, Brookgreen’s president and CEO.

Of the 9,100 acres at Brookgreen, 4,400 acres of forest will earn carbon credits through the California Air Resources Board. The carbon offsets were developed by Green Assets, a Wilmington, N.C., firm. The company also developed carbon credits for Middleton Plantation outside Charleston, but the Brookgreen credits are the first from South Carolina to be issued through the California ARB.

California’s cap-and-trade program sold 23 million tons of credits in November at $12.10 a ton. Brookgreen will receive 162,551 credits for its forest. Jewel said how much money Brookgreen receives will depend on the market. The cost of developing the credits will also be deducted from the sale.

“It’s a little like the stock market. You hope you’re making the decision at the right time,” Jewell said.

Funds from the sale of credits will be used for forest management and other environmental programs, he said.

“We already have a forest management plan. This sort of fits into that,” Jewell said. “It protects the trees for future generations.”

The idea of developing carbon credits was raised by a Brookgreen trustee, Jewell said. It took about 18 months to obtain the credits. “They did extensive research,” he said. “A couple of teams came in to verify it.”

Under the program, Brookgreen guarantees that the forest will be preserved and managed to increase the carbon stock, said Chris Newton, CEO of Green Assets. Brookgreen can get additional credits as those stocks increase.

“They are living proof that environmental practices are worthwhile,” Newton said.

The credits are based on the carbon stock above what is “common practice for the area,” he explained. “Because it’s taken care of very well, they’re able to get the credits.”

The forests will be monitored and the carbon stock verified every two years.

Newton said the Brookgreen deal will also spread the word that Southeast forests can participate in the California market. “It’s really encouraging,” he said.

Brookgreen will have approval of the sale of credits, so they won’t be used to mitigate something that might tarnish the gardens’ reputation. “That was one of the concerns I had,” Jewell said.

“I think this is something more and more people will take advantage of,” he said. “We’re helping the environment and we’re helping Brookgreen, which will help the community.”

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