Spruce-Fir Panorama
Spruce-fir forest on privately-owned Plot Balsam parcel in Haywood County, NC. Under the sustainable forest-management plan, this sensitive, high-elevation forest is protected, while lower-elevation hardwoods are selectively cut. Photos by Barrett Walker on site visit.
Project Report:
Carbon Canopy
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


Dogwood Alliance received a a $15,000 grant from the Alex C. Walker Foundation for its Carbon Canopy Project which is bringing together diverse stakeholders ranging from private landowners and environmental groups to multinational corporations to develop market-based solutions to conserve forests and expand ecosystem services on private lands in the Southern US. Carbon Canopy, is leveraging the greening of the US marketplace into a source of revenue for landowners that commit to manage working forests for long-term carbon sinks under FSC forest management and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) carbon accounting protocols tied to conservation easements.


Over the past year, Carbon Canopy has made significant progress developing forest-carbon pilot projects on working forest lands in the Southern Appalachian region of the South. Specifically, Carbon Canopy secured a commitment from The Forestland Group, one of the largest corporate landowners in the region, to move forward on full project development on 20,000 acres in Southwestern Virginia. Necessary inventories as required under the rigorous Climate Action Reserve (CAR) protocols are being conducted so this project can be formally listed. Initial term sheets for the sale of the carbon have been drafted and interested corporate buyers (Staples, Interface and Coca-Cola) have been engaged.

In addition, Carbon Canopy is working with two smaller landowners to assess project feasibility on 3,100 acres in western North Carolina and on two parcels over 1,300 acres each in Southwestern Virginia. An initial timber cruise has been conducted on the site in western North Carolina and an on-site visit has been made to the potential site in Virginia. Walker Foundation funds helped support forest inventory costs associated with these projects involving smaller landowners. Through these pilot projects, Carbon Canopy is helping forest managers in the Southern Appalachian region understand the technical aspects of developing carbon projects under CAR. Carbon Canopy led a workshop this year entitled "Carbon Canopy; Making Carbon Projects Work for Forest Land Conservation" at the Southeastern Regional Land Trust Alliance meeting in Chattanooga. Our participation at the conference in Chattanooga has led to ongoing dialogue with several land trusts, landowners, conservation consultants and other stakeholders across the region. As a result, we are now engaged in discussions regarding three potential additional projects in the Southern Appalachian region.

Carbon Canopy is also generating corporate interest in purchasing carbon offsets from its projects. We hosted two corporate roundtables, one in Atlanta and one in New York which engaged some of the largest companies in the US. As a result, we have brought together a buyers group consisting of five companies that have expressed interest in purchasing offsets from our initial pilot projects. In addition, we engaged large financial institutions (Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase) in on-going discussions about the development of funding mechanisms for small landowners to help finance up-front costs associated with forest-carbon project development.

This year, the National Woodland Owners Association (NWOA) joined Carbon Canopy as a partner organization. An article about Carbon Canopy was featured in the summer issue of National Woodlands, a magazine published by NWOA that reaches over 30,000 forest landowners. As a trusted source of information for forest landowners and with 36 state and 287 county woodland owner association member organizations throughout the United States, NWOA will help Carbon Canopy educate and reach tens of thousands of landowners.

Finally, Carbon Canopy initiated a 5-year strategic planning process with funding from Staples. We expect a final product outlining key goals and strategies for scaling up on-the-ground projects in early 2012.

Certified plywood
The Walker Foundation conducted a site visit to observe the production of certified plywood from forest management to manufacture.


For too long, the Southern forest economy has been based almost exclusively on resource extraction at the expense of other forest values such as carbon sequestration, water quality and biodiversity. Carbon Canopy, is working to shift this paradigm through leveraging the greening of the US marketplace into a source of revenue for landowners that commit to manage working forests for long-term carbon sinks under FSC forest management and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) carbon accounting protocols tied to conservation easements.

Two recent market trends create opportunities to stimulate forestry practices on the South’s private lands that foster better ecosystem stewardship and encourage landowners to keep their forests as forest. First, is the increasing market demand for FSC-certified wood and paper products among large corporate consumers and producers. Second, as governments and corporations begin to design and implement policies to address climate change, offset markets are emerging that place a monetary value on the carbon sequestration services forests provide. Large corporations in the US continue to be active players in the emerging voluntary carbon marketplace. Carbon Canopy is building demand for FSC-certified, CAR verified offsets coming from private lands in the South through harnessing the growing voluntary market for offsets which is driven in large part today by large US corporations.


Forest loss and degradation account for 20% of global carbon emissions. While forest destruction in the developing world is a primary factor, a recent report from the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the US leads the world in percentage of forest cover loss, attributing much of that to industrial logging in the South where 2% of the world’s forests produce about 20% of the world’s wood and paper products. The impacts of industrial logging extend beyond carbon to also include rural poverty, loss of biodiversity, flooding, and degraded water resources. As if current pressures aren’t enough, efforts are underway to shift energy production from fossil fuels to wood even though recent science suggests such a switch could double logging rates across the region, increase carbon emissions and pose more of a health threat than burning coal.

Carbon Canopy's strategy for enhancing forested landscapes’ ability to store and sequester carbon, protect water quality, maintain biodiversity and support healthy rural communities focuses on creating financial value for leaving more trees (and carbon) in the woods. Through the development of ecosystem service markets, Carbon Canopy is on the cutting-edge of developing new business models for forestry with some of the world’s biggest corporations. By strategically engaging key players in the forest industry in the largest wood and paper producing region of the world our work informs national and even global forest conservation and climate policies.

Information Dissemination

We will communicate results and findings via the project website, press releases, online blogs and through presentations at relevant conferences.

This year, Carbon Canopy developed educational materials including a primer on carbon project development and a table top display to support our presentation and attendance at the Southeastern Regional Land Trust Alliance conference in Chattanooga in May. We also sponsored this year’s Ecosystem Service Markets conference organized by WRI and the Forest Foundation. An op-ed about Carbon Canopy, the importance of protecting carbon sinks and the emergence of carbon markets as a strategy for conserving forests was published in the Charlotte News and Observer and in the Mountain Express – the weekly newspaper in Asheville, NC. Another op-ed referencing Carbon Canopy is forthcoming in Tidewater, the daily newspaper in Franklin, VA. Finally, as reported above, an article about Carbon Canopy ran in National Woodlands.

Project Link www.carboncanopy.com

Amount Approved
$15,000.00 on 12/3/2010 (Check sent: 12/13/2010)

Timber harvesting site
Visit to timber harvesting site. Although operations were suspended due to wet weather, disturbance to the forest floor was kept to a minimum & quality hardwoods were left for regrowth.

Poplar logs
Yellow poplar in storage at mill. Logs are kept damp until used.

Spruce-Fir Panorama
National Woodlans Summer 2011 p1.pdf (PDF)
Timber harvesting site
Poplar logs
Controls log lathe
Log lathe
Adhesive application
Finished plywood
Certified plywood

129 Biltmore Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801

(828) 251-2525
(828) 242-3590 ext 11
(828) 251-2501 (fax)


Andrew Goldberg
Director of Corporate Engagement, Dogwood Alliance
Danna Smith
Executive Director, Dogwood Alliance

Posted 10/1/2010 10:35 AM
Updated   10/24/2011 6:01 PM

  • Nonprofit

Controls log lathe
Operator at controls of log lathe at Columbia Forest Products.

Log lathe
Columbia Forest Products manufactures high-qulality hardwood plywood from thin sheets of wood that are glued together. The layers are assembled so that the grain of adjacent plies are at right angles, resulting in greater strength. Here a precision lathe peels a log into a series of thin sheets.

Adhesive application
Columbia developed a soy-based, formaldehyde-free adhesive. Here the adhesive is being applied to individual plywood layers before insertion into a press & drying oven.

Finished plywood
Finished sheet of walnut plywood displayed by Andrew Goldberg of Dogwood Alliance, Peggy Walker, Walker Foundation, Richard "Rene" Taylor & Jim Sitts of Columbia Forest Products.

© 2024 Alex C. Walker Foundation