Assessing the Potential for New Jersey Forests to Sequester Carbon and Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions Avoidance

NJ forest

View or download the final report (1.5m PDF)

A multi-disciplinary research team from Rutgers University has released a report entitled: "Assessing the Potential for New Jersey Forests to sequester Carbon and Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions Avoidance." The initial impetus for the project as well as funding was provided by the Division of Parks & Forestry, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The project was broken into four components to examine the role forests in sequestering carbon as well as the role wood products may have in providing alternative energy needs.

Section 1

Richard G. Lathrop, Jr. , Yangjian Zhang, Edwin J. Green , Ming Xu
Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Rutgers University

Joan Ehrenfeld, Brian Clough
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University

Through the process of photosynthesis, trees remove carbon from the atmosphere and store (or sequester) that carbon in their wood. Section 1 assessed the quantity of carbon stored by New Jersey forests (i.e., carbon stock) and estimated the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere (i.e., carbon flux) and sequestered annually. Forest soils are also a significant storehouse of carbon and the study results demonstrate that soil carbon accumulation in young forests can make significant contributions to carbon sequestration projects.

Section 2

David Specca
Rutgers EcoComplex Center, Rutgers University

Charles Vail
Vail Consulting

New Jersey has many business development opportunities for wood-based bioenergy production. Section 2 quantified the capacity to sustainably produce wood-based biomass renewable energy in NJ and thereby reduce reliance on fossil-based non-renewable energy resources. An assessment of the major sources of wood was conducted, including Class 1 type materials such as Forestry Residues, Primary and Secondary Forestry Products Industry Residues, Urban Forestry and Landscaping Residues, and Bioenergy Crops, and Class 2 material which was from Construction and Demolition Waste sources.

Section 3

Mark Vodak
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University

With increasing interest and activity in 'carbon offsets' and 'cap-and-trade' programs over the past several years, there has also been a steadily increasing interest in the area of forest-based carbon sequestration and forest-based carbon offset programs. The recent years of economic downturn have slowed this increase somewhat, but substantial interest remains. Section 3 identified and described a number of carbon sequestration projects that could serve as models for future projects in New Jersey.

Section 4

Frank Felder, Andrew Cottrell
Center for Energy, Economic & Environmental Policy, Rutgers University

The sale of CO2 offsets generated from carbon sequestration forestry projects in regional and national markets represents a significant potential revenue stream through the sale of the offsets. An offset represents the reduction of one ton of CO2 from a specified mechanism. Section 4 examines the potential income from the sale of carbon offsets and Class I Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The current market is fairly limited with regards to carbon sequestration projects, but there is the potential for a large number of projects to be accepted by a number of markets in the future.

Last Updated: 04/05/2011