- Policy makers in the United States (US), following recommendations made by the international scientific community, have drafted national emissions reduction legislation in hopes of minimizing the harmful effects of global climate change. Included in this legislation is a national cap-and-trade system with provisions for carbon offsets. Specific provisions for forest carbon offsets include reduced emissions from deforestation and
degradation (REDD) as well as other forestry-related offsets both domestically and internationally. Given that the majority of forestland in the US is privately owned and little extant work examines this population in relation to forest carbon offsets, the goal of the current research was to employ survey methodology to measure the intentions of US forestland owners (non-industrial and industrial) to participate in emerging carbon offset markets. Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) (Ajzen 1991) as a theoretical framework, the current research examined the effects of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control on intentions to participate in carbon sequestration and
trading. In addition, the TPB model developed for non-industrial owners was extended to measure effects of innovativeness, environmental orientation, knowledge of carbon offsets, and perceived risk. The TPB model developed for industrial owners was
extended to measure effects of perceptions regarding the likelihood of national cap-andtrade legislation implementation, legislation effectiveness, the legitimacy of domestic forest carbon offsets, economic short-termism, and organization (company) size.
Overall, few private forestland owners were currently managing forestland for carbon offsets (non-industrial 5%; industrial 18%). For non-industrial owners, core constructs within the TPB acted as hypothesized by Ajzen (1991). The extended model suggested that more innovative owners and owners with more biocentric environmental orientations tended to hold more positive attitudes regarding carbon sequestration and trading.
Perceived risk and knowledge were significant factors, but found to be less influential. However, knowledge positively influenced attitudes while negatively influencing behavioral intentions, thus, indicating that knowledgeable forestland owners, although
holding positive attitudes regarding carbon sequestration and trading, were less likely to implement the practice.
A reduced TPB model was effective when applied to industrial owners. Attitudes had a strong effect on intentions regarding carbon sequestration and trading. Attitudes were influenced by perceptions regarding the implementation of cap-and-trade legislation, as well as the legitimacy of domestic forest carbon as a viable climate change mitigation tool. Qualitative data support these findings and suggests that industrial owners were
adopting a passive approach to carbon offset opportunities until a suitable regulatory framework emerges and carbon prices create sufficient return on investment. Results suggest attitudes regarding carbon sequestration and trading are significantly less positive at the organizational level than attitudes held by individual managers responsible for the carbon sequestration activities.
Findings from this study identify key requirements for carbon market participation by non-industrial and industrial private forestland owners. Non-industrial owners require education and guidance regarding carbon offset opportunities. Industrial owners require a stable and healthy carbon offset market with well defined regulations and sufficient carbon values to justify the cost of alternative forest management practices.