An investigation of carbon sequestration, storage capacity, and air pollution removal by trees in the Resort Municipality of Whistler
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Trees have a considerable ability to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and improve air quality, including many other valuable ecosystem services. Beyond timber value, trees contribute to other economic benefits that are either unmeasured or undervalued in today’s markets. Accurate valuation of carbon sequestration and storage, and air pollution removal benefits can lead to better forest management planning and protection strategies by revealing a more holistic understanding of forest carbon and air quality. Forests are a main driver for many carbon offset programs through sequestering and carbon storage, while policy makers develop the offset mechanism. Previous investigations of carbon sequestration, storage capacity, and air pollution removal benefits of trees revealed that ecosystem services value is ineffectively measured. This Master’s research study quantified the carbon sequestration and storage capacity, and air pollution service/flow values of trees in the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Specific tree attributes were used to model results to reveal a clearer picture of the carbon values in today’s carbon markets. The study used data from the vegetation resource inventory stock developed by the BC Ministry of Forests to estimate the growth and yield rates of trees in the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Field data was conducted to gather specific species age class and size attributes. The data is modelled into the i-TreeEcoV6 program software suite where a monetary valuation of carbon and air was determined. This research contributes to current literature by evaluating the effectiveness of using i-Tree to model forests for their climate change mitigating potential, and deciphering whether the provincial government, Cheakamus Community Forest and the Resort Municipality of Whistler adequately value forest carbon. The findings from this research contribute to carbon capture policy by providing a more accurate picture of forest carbon and air pollution removal values.