iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Voluntary carbon credits from improved forest management: policy guidelines and case study

Giorgio Vacchiano (1)   , Roberta Berretti (2), Raoul Romano (2), Renzo Motta (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 1-10 (2018)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2431-010
Published: Jan 09, 2018 - Copyright © 2018 SISEF

Research Articles

Human activities have the potential to enhance carbon sequestration by the world’s forests and contribute to climate change mitigation. Voluntary carbon trading is currently the only option to pursue and reward carbon sequestration by forestry activities. Carbon credits for enhanced sequestration can be sold to partners wishing to offset their own emissions. Here we illustrate the steps taken to design guidelines for the generation of voluntary carbon credits by improved forest management in Piemonte, Italy. The guidelines have been developed in a joint effort by academia, regional administrations, forest owners and professional consultants. In particular, we show how to compute the baseline and the additionality of credit-generating forest management activities, and how to reconcile the generation of forest carbon credits with law requirements, technical limitations, and the provision of other ecosystem services. To illustrate the profitability of carbon credit generation, we simulated the application of carbon credit guidelines to two forest-rich mountain watersheds in the southern part of the Piemonte region. The two dominating tree species are beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.). We computed current forest carbon stock and carbon credits generated in 20 years under business as usual and an alternative biomass retention scenario. The IFM resulted in an avoided harvest of 39.362 m3 for a net total of 64.014 MgCO2e after subtracting harvest emissions, or 38 Mg ha-1 throughout the permanence period of 20 years. These steps can be replicated in other mountain regions where there is interest in promoting this ecosystem service as an alternative or an addition to production-oriented forest management.


Carbon Stocks, Carbon Credits, Biomass, Coppice, Ecosystem Services, Forest Management Plan, Climate Change Mitigation, Retention Forestry

Authors’ address

Giorgio Vacchiano
Renzo Motta
Università degli Studi di Torino, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Largo Braccini 2, I-10095 Grugliasco, TO (Italy)
Roberta Berretti
Raoul Romano
Consiglio per la Ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’Economia Agraria (CREA), Centro di ricerca Politiche e Bioeconomia, v. Po 14, I-00198 Roma (Italy)

Corresponding author

Giorgio Vacchiano


Vacchiano G, Berretti R, Romano R, Motta R (2018). Voluntary carbon credits from improved forest management: policy guidelines and case study. iForest 11: 1-10. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2431-010

Academic Editor

Marco Borghetti

Paper history

Received: Mar 15, 2017
Accepted: Oct 17, 2017

First online: Jan 09, 2018
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2018
Publication Time: 2.80 months

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