The Nature Conservancy - Dow Collaboration 2012 Progress Report
Planting a forest to improve air quality may prove to be as cost-effective as expensive new pollution-control equipment and could bring recreational opportunities and increased property values to local communities.
Nature Conservancy. (2013). The Nature Conservancy - Dow Collaboration 2012 Progress Report. Texas, United States: Author.
The Dow Chemical Company and the Nature Conservancy have been working on a collaboration, since 2011, to help Dow and the business community recognize, value and incorporate nature into business decisions. Pilots sites are being used to demonstrate the benefits of incorporating biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) into business decision-making, and to have the potential for direct and tangible conservation and societal benefits at scale.
Analysis of a test case in southeast Texas found that reforestation can be a cost-competitive method to generate NOx emissions credits. The hypothetical 1,000 acre project, estimated to cost $470,000 to implement, would be expected to remove quantities of ozone and NO2 equivalent to a range between 122 and 202 tons of NOx total over the next 30 years, at a cost of $2,400 to $4,000 per ton of NOx . The cost per ton compares to the estimated industry NOx control costs range, from about $2,500-$5,000 per ton of NOx for traditional NOx abatement strategies. The analysis assumes that reforestation could occur on land owned by Dow, the State of Texas or the Conservancy. The analysis also assumes the planting of tree seedlings. A key benefit of using reforestation for NOx control purposes is that projects can be tailored to achieve specific quantities of NOx removal, making this strategy particularly well-suited to projects requiring relatively small quantities of NOx removal. While it has comparable costs for NOx removal relative to engineered options, there are additional benefits to both Dow and society from planting a forest instead of installing traditional control technology. Carbon stored by a 1,000- acre forest could result in avoided climate costs to society at large, in terms of health costs, lost output, and infrastructure damage. The carbon stored by the forest may be eligible for offsets on California’s regulatory carbon market or on voluntary U.S. carbon markets.
New forest could also add important habitat for wildlife in a region that has lost much of its forests. Not only was there significant tree mortality during the drought of 2011, but historically, approximately 75% of the bottomland hardwood forest has been lost. Depending on the location of the forest project, reforestation could bring recreational opportunities, increased property values, and other benefits to local communities.