Paying for forest carbon: Cost-effectiveness of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) remuneration scheme

Yonky Indrajaya, Hans Peter Weikard*, Frits Mohren, Edwin van der Werf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Forests play an essential role in climate change mitigation by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon in biomass. Carbon sequestration can be increased by the extension of rotation cycles in existing plantation forests. This study examines the cost-effectiveness of the remuneration scheme employed by Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a commonly used carbon accounting method based on the average amount of carbon stored in the forest. We compare the net present value of carbon remuneration under VCS with that of a scheme that remunerates actual carbon storage in each year which we call “current carbon accounting.” We use data for an Acacia mangium plantation in Indonesia where the forestry sector is expected to contribute more than half of the reductions of carbon emissions according to Indonesia's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. For our baseline scenario, we find, first, that the payments needed to incentivise additional carbon storage under VCS are considerably higher than under current carbon accounting. Second, the inefficiency is more pronounced at lower discount rates. Third, recent prices reported for VCS forest credits are not sufficient to incentivise forest managers to lengthen the forest rotation in Indonesian plantation forests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12387
JournalNatural Resource Modeling
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • carbon sequestration
  • cost-effectiveness
  • Faustmann model
  • Hartman model
  • payments for forest carbon
  • plantation forest
  • Verified Carbon Standard


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