Carbon credits could net Akron more than logging, expert says

Chagrin Valley Times

Thursday, March 22, 2018

By Joan Demirjian

Local conservationist Bill Ginn said the city of Akron could benefit more financially from selling carbon credits rather than felling 420 trees at LaDue Reservoir in Auburn and selling the timber.

The Bainbridge resident and a member of the Nature Conservancy attended a community forum March 15 in which local residents voiced objections to a plan to cut down 412 mature trees at LaDue Reservoir which is owned by the city of Akron.

At 95, conservation and the environment have played an important role in the life of Mr. Ginn and his family.

He was instrumental in acquiring 525 acres of land that is now the West Woods Park in Russell for the Geauga Park District. The land would have otherwise been sold by ASM International to housing developers. The park district was unable to come up with the money to buy the land by the ASM deadline. So, Mr. Ginn borrowed the money to purchase the acreage.

That gave the park district time to get a levy passed and then buy the land from Mr. Ginn.

West Woods in Russell is a spectacular place that opens the world of nature to those who frequent the park, he said.

Last week, some residents asked if Akron could profit by selling the felled trees around LaDue.

Mr. Ginn noted that there are other ways to make money on property including selling carbon credits from forested lands. The Nature Conservancy has developed a plan in which more than 60,000 acres in Pennsylvania was used for carbon credits, he said.

The goal of the carbon credits program is to lower emissions of carbon dioxides. Groups that take advantage of this program could earn money annually, while selling wood from trees is a one-time deal, he said.

Mr. Ginn explained that every time a tree grows, it takes out the carbon in the atmosphere and sequesters it in the fabric of the tree and also expels beneficial oxygen into the atmosphere. “We all benefit,” Mr. Ginn said of that process.

Buying carbon credits

The city of Akron could sell the carbon credits on the market and the Nature Conservancy could serve as a partner, developing a plan for conservation of the trees, he said.

Mr. Ginn gave an example of airplanes and cars spewing carbon into the air. Those companies “have been frequent buyers of carbon credits and that helps them deal with regulatory authorities who say your activities are sending out carbon to the detriment of the environment,” he said.

Companies that mine coal and natural gas are customers as well. They have to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere and they buy the carbon credits as offsets, Mr. Ginn said.

The sale of carbon credits is a program that reaches out nationally and internationally, he said. Ohio firms so far have not taken part in the program. “It’s a win-win situation. Maybe Akron will see that.”

Many believe that carbon dioxide can cause climate change. “All the major countries in the world entered in to the Paris Climate Accord, and they are all trying to do what is necessary to control the carbon that goes into the atmosphere and creates climate change,” Mr. Ginn explained.

The city of Albany, New York has water reservoirs and a series of forests around them. The city has entered the carbon credits program and is receiving a substantial check every year as a result of the program, Mr. Ginn said. “And they don’t pay a nickel. They put an easement on the land and make a commitment to keep the trees healthy.

“Trees are irreplaceable in that respect,” he said of their importance to the environment.

The root structures of the trees nourish them with rain water, and the root systems also direct the water, through the ground, straining off pollutants, so when the water gets to the reservoir, it is purified, he noted.

He noted that LaDue is a reservoir constructed to provide drinking water of high quality for Akron and down-stream communities. The purity of that water will definitely be adversely impacted if the trees are lost, he said.

Those trees are priceless to clean water, and when they are cut down and turned into lumber, they may be worth millions of dollars for someone, but not the city, Mr. Ginn said. “Once they are cut and the city gets paid, the trees are gone and carbon is released into the atmosphere so it is a detriment.

“We know once they are logged, there will be soil erosion and detrimental soil going into the lake,” Mr. Ginn said. It already has an algae problem and if it is not interrupted by the roots and it goes into the water, it ruins the reservoir. “And water at some point is going to be the most precious commodity on earth.”

Akron would get only $50,000 to $70,000 for harvesting the trees. That is a pittance of what the trees are worth to the environment, he said.

“It just doesn’t add up,” he said. “It’s a distressing thing. There are eagles nesting there and migratory birds,” he said. Those who value birding, fishing and boating will suffer a loss as well if the trees are eliminated from the environment.

As a lawyer, Mr. Ginn came to the Cleveland area in 1950. He and his late wife and their family moved to Geauga County in 1973. “This is my home,” he said of the county.

He plans to stay involved with the LaDue logging issue until it is resolved. “We are not conducting a campaign. We’re just trying to deal with a problem that Akron is responsible for,” Mr. Ginn said.

Categories: News

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