Published Oct. 17, 2013
A plantation on the Ashley River is partnering with a carbon-offset company in Wilmington, N.C., to protect more than 3,700 acres from development and generate income for the historic property, the company said in a news release.
Colby Hollifield, managing director of Middleton Place LLC, said the partnership with Green Assets is the first phase of a carbon-offset project for the 6,000-acre Middleton Place Plantation property.
Green Assets, which develops forest carbon-offset projects for landowners, registered the Middleton Woodlands Avoided Conversion project through the Climate Action Reserve. The company said the “avoided conversion” designation prevents anyone from converting the forestland to nonforestland use.
|Middleton Place on the Ashley River is partnering with a Wilmington, N.C., company on a carbon-offset project. (Photo/Middleton Place)|
“Protecting the property for future generations while providing immediate and long-term income fits perfectly with our mission of environmental sustainability and historic preservation,” Hollifield said in the news release.
Middleton Place is registered as a National Historic Landmark with the oldest landscaped gardens in the U.S. The plantation and gardens on Ashley River Road are a draw for tourists and local residents who want to get a sense of what a working plantation was like.
The adjacent forestland included in the carbon-offset project was previously used for agriculture within the Middleton Place property. The land also was used for phosphate mining after the Civil War, but has since been allowed to regrow as a forest.
Green Assets specializes in carbon-offset development for forestland, the company said. The program works by a team measuring the amount of carbon dioxide taken from the air by forestland to create carbon credits. The credits can then be sold for income or used to offset an operation’s carbon footprint.
Green Assets said companies and organizations voluntarily purchase carbon credits to improve their environmental image, but other buyers, such as large industrial companies, use them to balance their emissions to comply with pollution laws.
An Environmental Protection Agency presentation in 2008 said the value of a carbon credit depends on the types of gases being taken out of the environment. Overall, the market was worth $100 million in the U.S. in 2007, when 23 million metric tons were traded, the EPA said. That would make one ton, or one credit, worth about $4.35 six years ago on average, but prices fluctuate and will likely increase as demand rises, the EPA said. A graph showed that in 2008 prices for carbon credits rose to almost $8 at one point.
Hunter Parks, founder and president of Green Assets, said the company worked with Middleton to design a project that takes advantage of the emerging U.S. carbon credit market.
“Large property landowners are quickly discovering the economic and environmental benefits available through the carbon-offset initiative,” Parks said. “This is an emerging industry, however the trends are clear: Rising concern over global climate change will fuel tremendous growth in the value of carbon offsets for many years to come.”