U.S. companies are increasingly interested in carbon footprints. Among the largest is Wal-Mart.

For more, see Rice varieties’ carbon footprint

How might that affect GreenTrees and farmers/landowners that sign up?

“The history of Wal-Mart’s interest in this is interesting,” says Van Voorhis. “Our business partner’s mother used to be chair of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. At that time, the NFWF got Wal-Mart to invest in a program called Acres for America where, for every acre of developed space, Wal-Mart wanted to get at least 1 acre under conservation. At that time, Wal-Mart was being beaten up pretty bad for everything from healthcare issues to labor stances. Eventually, I think they got 2 acres for every one that was developed.”

Wal-Mart found that being proactive on conservation and the environment actually benefited their stock. Since then, the company has “branched out further saying, ‘being a good steward translates into economics.’ So, now, when Wal-Mart says, ‘We want (suppliers to adhere) to these specifications,’ it can change a market. They’re the dominant player. … If Wal-Mart says ‘we want 1 million tons of offsets,’ that’s when landowners and the program will come into play.”

For GreenTrees, “it isn’t about money for existing trees,” says Gravely. “It’s about producing carbon and that voluntary market is still very much alive and kicking. There are still a lot of companies and organizations — just like with Wal-Mart… — that are seeing bottom line benefits.”

GreenTrees, as a result, is also benefiting.

“The story of reforestation is a very good public relations story. The project is designed for carbon sequestration as a foundation. It checks all the high standards and protocol boxes and is working: trees are growing and properties are being converted into beautiful forests. The potential has now been demonstrated. Carbon isn’t some kind of hoax, but a true, bona fide market under the right type of project.”