Expressing the sense of the West Virginia Forestry Association that the sale of forest carbon offsets could be detrimental to the forest products industry and our local communities.
Whereas West Virginia is the third most forested state in the country with over twelve million acres of forestland supported by a thriving forest products industry that provides over 30,000 jobs and in excess of $3 billion in economic impact to our state’s economy.
Whereas the forests of West Virginia have been very well managed in modern times and that during the last decade harvesting levels have remained at less than fifty percent of growth and forest land acreage has remained remarkably stable.
Whereas young, healthy, well-managed forests provide clean water, improved wildlife habitat, jobs, reduced fire hazards, and forest products that store sequestered carbon for decades.
Whereas carbon offset companies are acquiring control of large expanses of West Virginia timberland with the stated intent of drastically reduced timber harvesting on those lands.
Whereas scientific studies have concluded the most efficient and effective method of mitigating carbon in our atmosphere utilizing forests is by actively managing those forests and harvesting trees which are then manufactured into forest products that store carbon throughout their useful life while also displacing the use of carbon intensive products such as plastic, concrete, and steel.
Whereas restricting access to forest resources will cause an increase in the use of more carbon intense building materials such as concrete and steel, resulting in a net increase of carbon emissions.
Whereas many smaller individual forestland owners could be confused by the complexity of forest carbon offset contract provisions that restrict harvesting and sound forest management practices and, therefore, not fully understand their legal obligations in these contracts.
Whereas any carbon project that causes a material reduction in timber harvesting within a given area would cause substantial harm to the forest products industry and the rural communities located within those affected lands and these potential negative impacts have not been fully explored.
Whereas the state of West Virginia and our rural communities receive little to no economic benefit from the sale of forest carbon offsets, unlike the economic gains generated by harvesting trees to support the forest products industry.
THEREFORE, we the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Officers of the West Virginia Forestry Association beseech the West Virginia Legislature and Governor to address this issue to protect the forests and forest products industry, landowners and the jobs in our great state of West Virginia.