Forest embracing emerging markets 

Published Oct. 10 2017

To the Editor

The recent letter to the editor from John Cowan (“Carbon credits complicate” Oct. 3 2017) presents some interesting points and warrants a response. The management team at Haliburton Forest appreciates his interest in the subject and would be pleased to engage with him (and other members of the community) in a deeper discussion about climate change and carbon credits.

Mr. Cowan suggests that Haliburton Forest should avoid selling its image and I agree with him. The management team at Haliburton Forest has spent 30 years earning its reputation as a sustainable forest management company. We will not trade that for any amount of money. My colleagues and I do good work in the bush because it aligns with our ethics and principles.

Carbon credits are not about selling an image but rather a service. In this case the service is carbon sequestration through forest growth. Our company also sells firewood lumber furniture and canoeing paddles not to mention hunting privileges campsite leases and tours of various kinds. From our perspective carbon credits are another product that fit within the overall sustainable forest management strategy that we implement at Haliburton Forest. At this point we expect that the carbon credits at Haliburton Forest will be generated exclusively through forest growth.

We can all agree that moving toward a low-carbon economy is a good thing. There are different ways to achieve the shift; our province has opted to implement a cap-and-trade system. Such a system provides large emitters with the flexibility that they need to develop technology or engineer solutions for reducing their carbon emissions because they are able to purchase credits from companies like Haliburton Forest. It makes business sense for a company like ours to participate in the emerging markets for credits but there is a social purpose too because it facilitates the mandated transition to a low-carbon economy.

Since the initial discussions about carbon credits at Haliburton Forest our team has stated that it is our intention to share our experience with other forest owners. We hope that the development of this project will provide incentives for all landowners to embrace sustainable forest management while providing some liquidity in the emerging carbon markets. It is true that our credits may be purchased by companies that are emitting more than their share of greenhouse gases but we see the cap-and-trade system as a mechanism for facilitating compliance. In other words we believe in the ingenuity of Canadian industry: our credits will be purchased by companies that are moving in the right direction but need time to achieve their goals.

If there is broad and general interest in the subject of carbon credits at Haliburton Forest we would be pleased to host an Open House at our Base Camp in the near future to discuss issues like this at greater length. Please email if you would be interested in participating in such an event.

Malcolm Cockwell RPF

Managing Director