Harnessing Farms and Forests in the Low-Carbon Economy

How to Create, Measure, and Verify Greenhouse Gas Offsets

Harnessing Farms and Forests in the Low-Carbon Economy

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 39 tables, 30 illustrations Published: July 2007

Environmental Studies, Politics > Public Policy

As the United States moves to a low-carbon economy in order to combat global warming, credits for reducing carbon dioxide emissions will increasingly become a commodity that is bought and sold on the open market. Farmers and other landowners can benefit from this new economy by conducting land management practices that help sequester carbon dioxide, creating credits they can sell to industry to “offset” industrial emissions of greenhouse gases.

This guide is the first comprehensive technical publication providing direction to landowners for sequestering carbon and information for traders and others who will need to verify the sequestration. It will provide invaluable direction to farmers, foresters, land managers, consultants, brokers, investors, regulators, and others interested in creating consistent, credible greenhouse gas offsets as a tradable commodity in the United States.

The guide contains a non-technical section detailing methodologies for scoping of the costs and benefits of a proposed project, quantifying offsets of various sorts under a range of situations and conditions, and verifying and registering the offsets. The technical section provides specific information for quantifying, verifying, and regulating offsets from agricultural and forestry practices.

Visit the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions website for audio from the press conference announcing the book.
Read the press release announcing the book.


“[T]his is an important, well-conceived, and well written manual. It provides the opportunity to adopt responsible measurements and modifications of GHG flux. Now let’s get out there and do it!” — Dylan G. Fischer and Alexandra Kazakova, Environmental Practice

“I would recommend this book because it gives farmers and landowners a thorough appreciation of the steps and challenges involved in quantifying GHG offsets from forestry and farming practices.” — Eddie Bevilacqua, Journal of Forestry

“Overall, this volume should be quite useful to anyone who needs to understand the emerging market for carbon offsets. . . . Readers with a natural resources background will find the discussion of the policy and economic aspects of carbon offset projects instructive, and those with a business or policy background will gain a good understanding of the technical aspects of quantifying the various carbon pools. For policymakers, this book is an excellent overview of a complex and growing topic. Harnessing Farms and Forests in the Low-Carbon Economy is a thorough well-written treatment of an important topic, and is a useful reference for those in agriculture, business, forestry and policy.” — Coeli M. Hoover, Environmental Conservation

“This book opens up with an entirely new paradigm for the climate change debate. . . . The book is all about giving a new form and a new character to this Imp called carbon that has created modernity, and now we have to pay a price for it. . . . Beneath the technicalities of the book the true spirit of the work is silently lurking for academicians, environmental scientists to rise up to the call.” — Tanaya Mohanty, Electronic Green Journal

“This is a very simple solution to use and a valuable tool for anyone contemplating or interested in helping to mitigate global warming and becoming involved in the new low-carbon economy.” — Maren Oelbermann, Entrepreneur

“This manual, directed to landowners, provides a comprehensive overview of the principles that underpin carbon offsets, and the methods for quantifying them . . . . Top scientists and economists in agriculture, land use, and forestry were involved in compiling this manual . . . . Recommended.” — E. J. Kormondy, Choice


Availability: In stock
Price: $60.00

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University is a nonpartisan institute that engages with decision-makers in government, the private sector, and the nonprofit community to develop innovative proposals that address critical environmental challenges, with offices at Duke University and in Washington, D.C.

Zach Willey is a Senior Economist at Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization that links science, economics, and law to create innovative, equitable, and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems. Willey specializes in developing economic solutions to greenhouse gas emission and natural resource degradation problems in terrestrial ecosystems. Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, is former chief scientist of Environmental Defense and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword vii

Preface ix

Part I. Overview

1. Introduction: The Role of Landowners and Farmers in the New Low-Carbon Economy 3

2. The Process of Creating Offsets 10

3. Land-Management Options for Creating Offsets 22

Part II. Steps in Determining a Project's Offsets

4. Step 1: Scoping the Costs and Benefits of a Proposed Project 39

5. Step 2: Determining Additionality and Baselines 46

6. Step 3: Quantifying the Carbon Sequestered in Forests 52

7. Step 4: Quantifying the Carbon Sequestered in Soil 64

8. Step 5: Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Manure 75

9. Step 6: Quantifying and Minimizing Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Soil 84

10. Step 7: Estimating Leakage or Off-Site Emissions Caused by the Project 91

11. Step 8: Verifying and Registering Offsets 99

12: Conclusion: Putting These Guidelines into Pratice 107

Appendices 109

Notes 209

Bibliography 215

Index 223
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