Improved Forest Management (IFM) projects under the California cap-and-trade market allow production of new, non-traditional commodities: forest carbon offsets. Earlier analyses have considered forest offsets generated through tree planting in the Global South, as vehicles for sustainable development. However, the California IFM program is testing offset production in new geographic and forest management contexts: with offsets produced and consumed within the US on working (timber producing) forests. With data drawn from California IFM project design documents and in-depth interviews with carbon project developers, this study traces the development, sale, and maintenance of forest offsets, in order to map access to benefits along the commodity chain. Results reveal that the cost and complexity of rendering biological services ‘real’ for market legitimacy are reducing benefits to marginal landowners, who lack needed capital, knowledge, and technology to bring offsets to market. An important insight of this study is that the state has maintained power over program participation and offset supply through control of the forest offset methodology, creating a production process largely mediated by the state, adding risk and uncertainty to market participation. Findings provide an empirical example of neoliberal nature and offer broader lessons on governance and benefit distribution for ecosystem service commodity chains.
Kelly, Erin Clover, and Marissa Bongiovanni Schmitz. "Forest offsets and the California compliance market: Bringing an abstract ecosystem good to market." Geoforum 75 (2016): 99-109.
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture McIntire-Stennis program, accession number 231837.
Kelly, Erin Clover; Schmitz, Marissa Bongiovanni.
Forest Offsets and the California Compliance Market: Bringing an Abstract Ecosystem Good to Market.
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