Restoring Farmland to Wetlands: The Potential for Carbon Credits in Eastern North Carolina
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Rising atmospheric CO2 levels and the resulting global warming have created interest in storing carbon in land and biomass. Wetlands that are currently drained for agriculture have lost much of their historically stored carbon through soil oxidation. One solution to this problem is to restore farmland to wetlands in order to store carbon. This study 1) creates a model of carbon storage in restored wetlands in the Southeast, 2) identifies land where restoration may occur in eastern North Carolina, and 3) determines the price of CO2 necessary for the revenue from carbon credits to equal the revenue from farming in eastern North Carolina. Restoration of all the 40,756ha of marginal farmland in the lower Pasquotank Basin could store approximately 9,651,428 tons of carbon over 90 years. In order for restoration to be profitable from selling CO2 credits alone, current CO2 trading prices would need to increase to between $29.49 and $72.16 ton-1 CO2. While CO2 prices are currently not at this level, schemes such as unbundling credits from multiple ecosystem services provided by wetlands could affect the tipping point of restoration profitability.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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