A Big Island company plans to sell offsets produced by its native forest
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 18, 2010
A Big Island ranch says it is poised to become the first entity in Hawaii to market and sell carbon credits, using its native forest to help other businesses lower their net emission of greenhouse gases.
McCandless Land & Cattle Co. LLC has entered into a memorandum of understanding to market and sell carbon credits, also called offsets, through ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Hawaii Inc.
"It's the first of its kind in Hawaii," McCandless manager Keith Unger said.
Businesses worldwide buy carbon credits to reduce their net carbon emissions and help meet their countries' goal of reducing greenhouse gases, as set by the Kyoto Protocol agreement of 1997.
One carbon credit is equivalent to the reduction of 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in greenhouse gases. Landowners with forests and other carbon-absorbing vegetation are the typical sellers of carbon credits.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialized nations agreed to reduce four greenhouse gases—methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride and carbon dioxide—as well as their byproduct gases, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons.
While the United States did not sign the agreement, businesses in the U.S. are selling carbon credits.
ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Hawaii Inc., a subsidiary of the Canadian-based ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd., has agreed to provide financing to prepare McCandless to meet standards for selling carbon credits on the open market.
Unger said his company and ERA might be able to sell carbon offsets within 12 months internationally, including to Germany, where companies have been major buyers of carbon credits.
He said his business will be working with ERA to conduct preliminary biomass studies about the volume of timber on the ranch and its ability to pull carbon from the air.
Unger said businesses in unregulated markets, including those in the United States, also are buying carbon offset credits in anticipation of their countries adopting greenhouse gas regulations.
Unger said of the 15,000 acres owned by the ranch on the slopes of Mauna Loa, 8,000 acres are native ohia and koa forest.
Unger said the ranch has tried to preserve the native forest and that the majority of timber harvested has come from windfallen trees.
"It's difficult to generate income from these forests," he said.
"Now for the first time ever we're able to capitalize over our good stewardship."
The ranch raises about 150 head of breeding cows on about 600 acres of land along the coast.
McCandless was a major participant in the state's attempt to try to increase the number of endangered Hawaiian crows, or alala.