Yes, in some jurisdictions they can. In 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger successfully pushed for the institution of new rules that would allow timber companies to sell carbon credits. Such rules are also under review in a number of states and foreign countries. The notion is controversial because some claim that timber companies should not be allowed to purchase carbon credits to offset or “allow” them to pursue environmentally unfriendly practices such as clear-cutting. On the other hand, others argue that timber companies, who with their large forestland holdings are uniquely positioned to increase “carbon sinks” (trees) that mitigate global warming, should be encouraged to do so, and carbon credits are an economic advantage that provides that encouragement. Whether a worldwide market for carbon credits ultimately materializes as its proponents hope, it is likely that timber companies–both large institutional investors who own most of the commercial timberland in the U.S. and Europe, and non-owning companies that manage it for them, or TMO’s (Timber Maintenance Organizations)–will be heavily involved at some level.
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