Management of forests, rangelands, and wetlands on public lands, including the restoration of degraded lands, has the potential to increase carbon sequestration or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond what is occurring today. In this paper we discuss several policy options for increasing GHG mitigation on public lands. These range from an extension of current policy by generating supplemental mitigation on public lands in an effort to meet national emissions reduction goals, to full participation in an offsets market by allowing GHG mitigation on public lands to be sold as offsets either by the overseeing agency or by private contractors. To help place these policy options in context, we briefly review the literature on GHG mitigation and public lands to examine the potential for enhanced mitigation on federal and state public lands in the United States. This potential will be tempered by consideration of the tradeoffs with other uses of public lands, the needs for climate change adaptation, and the effects on other ecosystem services.
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions