Man with raincoat walking in forest

CU Denver Professor to Examine History of Forest Harvests and the Influence on Climate Change

October 8, 2020
Brian Buma

University of Colorado Denver Assistant Professor Brian Buma was awarded a $476,254 grant from the National Science Foundation. With this grant, Buma will explore what limits, if any, historical management patterns of carbon place on current carbon-management actions, and what that means for carbon management in the future. Carbon management is an important tool in promoting environmental health. It can be used to help organizations limit the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

The grant money will be used over the next three years to aid Buma’s research, which will result in the first spatially explicit carbon maps of the entire coastal region, one of the densest carbon hotspots on the globe. 

According to Buma, an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, studying carbon markets is an important opportunity to apply the tools of the market to climate change challenges. The forestry industry is looking towards carbon management and markets to create income while sustainably managing their lands.  

What is a carbon market?

A carbon market, also known as carbon emissions trading, is a form of emissions trading that specifically targets carbon dioxide. Carbon markets reduce greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively by setting limits on emissions and enabling the trading of emission units.

Buma’s work specifically targets rural areas where other industry options are scarce, places were new options like carbon markets can make a real difference to town and community survival. Over the three years, specific valuation targets will be tested and compared to ecological questions of stability, disturbance, and climate change. 

Historical Harvests and the Future 

Regenerating historical harvests gives researchers prime opportunities for the future of carbon management, like selling carbon offsets to other industries. However, the legacy of historical management patterns can limit where the future of carbon-focused management occurs. Since historical harvests were done differently than today’s harvests, the impact of the mismatched objectives is unknown.  

Training Students in the Field

Multiple students in the College of Liberal Arts and Science will be trained during this project. These students will work with local and private industry partners, giving them the opportunity to receive a true business-level knowledge of carbon markets as well as academic study designed training.