State moves ahead with carbon credits plan

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The state’s first carbon credit program is getting closer to launch.

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The state’s first carbon credit program is getting closer to launch.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Monday that it is seeking proposals for the program, which would finance reforestation in the Pu‘u Mali Restoration Area on Mauna Kea.

The area, established to mitigate palila habitat loss from Saddle Road improvement projects, covers 5,500 acres of mostly pasture land on the north slope of the mountain mauka of Mana Road. The carbon credit program area covers 4,700 acres.

Through the program, credits, certified by a third party, would be purchased to help a participant offset their carbon footprint. As an example, Philipp LaHaele Walter, state resource and survey forester, said in an email that a hotel could use credits generated from reforestation efforts it supports to make up for its emissions and market itself as a carbon-neutral property.

“Since the funds to buy the carbon credit would go towards DLNR’s restoration and conservation activities, the visitors would directly contribute to the natural beauty they are often here for,” he said.

Proposals are due Aug. 31.

According to DLNR, representatives of two private entities participated in a site visit Aug. 1.

According to the agency’s request for proposals, those who are interested shall submit an economic development plan, including pricing of carbon credits and project employment, and a reforestation plan, in addition to other details.

The restoration area, previously used for pasture leases, was added to the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve in April 2016.

As a result of mitigation efforts related to the Saddle Road projects, the area was fenced and feral ungulates were removed, according to the project’s request for proposals.

So far, 480 acres of trees have been planted. DLNR hopes the carbon credit program will finance much more.

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For more information, visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/frs/initiatives/forestcarbon/pmra.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.