Turning trees into money in the Pioneer Valley

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Three western Massachusetts communities are working together to save trees, improve air quality, and make money.

The Tri-City Public Carbon Sequestration Program is an agreement between West Springfield, Holyoke and Westfield to preserve more than 15,000 acres of trees surrounding their water sheds.

The cities are selling their tree stock, but the trees won’t be cut down. Instead, they will be exchanged for what is called a “carbon credit.”

“A carbon credit is a financial unit of measurement which represents removal of one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere,” said former West Springfield Mayor Ed Sullivan.

Each carbon credit is $10. Sullivan told 22News many large companies have to buy carbon credits when building a new office or warehouse, to offset some of the environmental impacts of that construction.

“In exchange of using carbon, you’re selling trees, saying you’re not going to cut them, to offset the use of carbon somewhere else,” explained West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt.

This program will collect more than $2 million dollars for the three communities over the next 10 years.

“It gives us money for something that we already have, plus it helps us protect and maintain it as well,” said Mayor Reichelt.

The money collected from the carbon credits will go back into conservation-type projects for the cities.

“For Holyoke, what that means is at least $100,000 per year to the city by selling those carbon credits,” said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.

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