Long-term in­come via for­est car­bon mar­ket

Australian Forests and Timber - - CARBON MARKETS -

AGROUNDBREAKING new deal has se­cured the sale and per­ma­nent re­tire­ment of an Alaskan coal field, while also en­sur­ing long-term in­come for an Alaskan Na­tive com­mu­nity. The deal will see the Chugach Alaska Cor­po­ra­tion (Chugach) sell its Ber­ing River coal rights to New Forests, a sustainable forestry and con­ser­va­tion in­vest­ment man­ager.

New Forests will re­tire those rights by trans­fer­ring them to The Na­ture Con­ser­vancy and the lo­cal Na­tive Con­ser­vancy land trust, while gen­er­at­ing rev­enue through the Cal­i­for­nia cap-and-trade car­bon mar­ket.

The trans­ac­tion il­lus­trates how land can be man­aged in a way that yields both fi­nan­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits. It also pro­vides an in­vest­ment model that shows how con­ser­va­tion fi­nance can cre­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties for landown­ers, in­vestors and non-profit part­ners seek­ing to bal­ance longterm land stew­ard­ship and de­vel­op­ment.

“As a com­mu­nity-owned or­gan­i­sa­tion, Chugach’s mis­sion is to pro­vide mean­ing­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties and ben­e­fits to our Alaska Na­tive share­hold­ers and descen­dants to­day and for gen­er­a­tions to come,” said Josie Hickel, Chugach share­holder and Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of En­ergy and Re­sources. “A coal sale and car­bon off­set pro­ject is a unique op­por­tu­nity to de­liver long-term, sustainable eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial value for our share­hold­ers and re­gion.”

New Forests cur­rently man­ages more than 1.8 mil­lion acres of tim­ber­land in­ter­na­tion­ally and is one of the largest de­vel­op­ers of car­bon off­set projects for Cal­i­for­nia’s cap-and-trade sys­tem.

“This novel in­vest­ment struc­ture will en­able Chugach to man­age the Ber­ing River Coal Field and re­gional tim­ber­lands in a man­ner that de­liv­ers long-term fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity for the Chugach share­holder com­mu­nity as well as sig­nif­i­cant cli­mate ben­e­fits,” said Brian Shillinglaw, Di­rec­tor of New Forests’ United States in­vest­ment pro­grams.

“Our part­ner­ship demon­strates that the com­bi­na­tion of cre­ative pri­vate in­vest­ment and a price on car­bon pol­lu­tion can de­liver pos­i­tive fi­nan­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial re­turns while sup­port­ing long-term sustainable re­source man­age­ment.”

The Ber­ing River Coal Field is si­t­u­ated on the eastern edge of Alaska’s Cop­per River Delta – the largest con­tigu­ous wet­lands on the Pa­cific Coast of North Amer­ica and one of the world’s most pro­duc­tive wild salmon fish­eries. The Cop­per River Delta ecosys­tem com­bines glaciers, rivers, rain­for­est and ocean, con­sti­tut­ing crit­i­cal habi­tat for a vast range of wildlife. The re­gion has been des­ig­nated as a Western Hemi­sphere Shore­bird Re­serve Net­work Site of Hemi­spheric Im­por­tance and its an­nual shore­bird fes­ti­val is a world-class eco­tourism des­ti­na­tion.

Sur­veys show 90% of the lo­cal com­mu­nity rely on the Cop­per River Delta’s wealth of nat­u­ral re­sources such as salmon for em­ploy­ment and sub­sis­tence needs.

The Ber­ing River Coal Field is lo­cated ap­prox­i­mately 50 miles south­east of Cor­dova, Alaska. Chugach was con­veyed 73,000 acres of land and min­eral rights com­pris­ing a large por­tion of the Ber­ing River Coal Field in 1983, pur­suant to the Alaska Na­tive Claims Set­tle­ment Act. This an­nounce­ment rep­re­sents a crit­i­cal step to­wards achiev­ing the ob­jec­tives laid out in Chugach’s 100Year Plan.

As part of the agree­ment with New Forests, Chugach will ac­tively man­age and main­tain the land to re­tain high car­bon stocks in the forests in ex­change for the op­por­tu­nity to sell car­bon cred­its to busi­nesses reg­u­lated un­der Cal­i­for­nia’s green­house gas pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion pro­gram. The coal rights were trans­ferred in fee to The Na­ture Con­ser­vancy, a non-profit con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion, with a re­stric­tive covenant against de­vel­op­ment held by the lo­cal, Na­tiveAlaskan con­trolled Na­tive Con­ser­vancy Land Trust.

“The com­bi­na­tion of cre­ative pri­vate in­vest­ment and a price on car­bon pol­lu­tion can de­liver pos­i­tive fi­nan­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial re­turns. ”

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