Structuring your NCX Seller Agreement Offers
Alex Macintosh
Alex Macintosh
20 February, 2021 min read

The NCX program has revolutionized access to forest carbon markets for landowners of all sizes. One feature of the program is that landowners choose the prices at which they are willing to participate, and then “offer” those prices into the program. This blog post will outline how landowners should approach this choice of price, and will also reference some recent studies that have been published on the topic.

To start, let’s review a summary of key points about the NCX program:

  • Once you’ve enrolled in the program, you’ll receive an Eligibility Report, which informs you how many Harvest Deferral Credits (HDCs) your property is able to supply to NCX this year.
  • NCX is intentionally designed to give landowners the flexibility to offer the HDC prices that work for their specific economic situation. If the landowner’s offer is accepted, the landowner will enter a binding contract to defer harvest at the accepted price and volume.
  • When a landowner’s offer is matched, the price they’ll be paid will be the same as or higher than the price they offered. Within landowner cohorts based on location and size, the price paid to each landowner will be the same. Therefore, it is in the landowner’s best interest to first determine the HDC prices that truly work for them, knowing that if their offer is accepted, the landowner will be paid that price or higher.

Process for determining an HDC offer price:

To determine their HDC offer prices, landowners should consider following this 3-step process:

  1. First, estimate the stumpage revenue that could be generated from selling the timber you’re considering selling into NCX as HDCs.
  2. Then, calculate the economic cost to you of waiting to earn that revenue 1 year later. This is most easily done by multiplying the revenue by a “discount rate”, which embodies the time value of money. Discount rates of 4-5% are commonly used in this setting, though ultimately it’s an individual decision.
  3. Divide this total “economic cost” by the number of HDCs you’re planning to offer to determine the HDC price.

Internet searches for a “fair” carbon price will uncover a wide range of answers. NCX is designed to make sure that market prices from buyers are transmitted as directly as possible to landowners. We will always advocate for landowners to first understand the economics of their own property before deciding whether or not carbon market participation is right for them.

Let’s walk through a specific example to illustrate this decision-making process:

  • The Ramon Family owns 100 acres of plantation pine. This is their entire ownership. They enroll all 100 acres in NCX for a free eligibility assessment and they are assessed 20 Harvest Deferral Credits (HDCs).
  • With input from their consulting forester, the Ramon Family had estimated they would harvest 500 tons of timber in the coming year, selling a combination of 80% pulpwood (400 tons) at a net price to the landowner of $7 per ton, and 20% sawtimber (100 tons) at a net price to the landowner of $22 per ton. This means that in total, the Ramon Family expected to receive about $5,000 for their timber.
  • Forgoing this $5,000 for a year imposes an economic cost on the family, since if they harvested today, they could spend or save that cash. At a discount rate of 4%, they can estimate this economic cost to be about $200.
  • Since deferring their timber harvest would yield 20 Harvest Deferral Credits from NCX, they can now divide $200 by 20 to produce a starting offer price of $10 per HDC. To settle on a final offer price, they can use the market data provided in the Landowner Platform to consider whether to make any adjustments.


Numerous factors determine the price a landowner should seek to be paid in order to sell HDCs and defer their timber harvest. NCX will continue to share materials that help landowners evaluate if and how to participate in the forest carbon program.

As a reminder, the program does not charge any fees to landowners, and enrolling for a free eligible carbon assessment requires no commitment for further participation. Interested landowners and their representatives should go to to begin the enrollment process. Feel free to reach out to the NCX team at with any questions about the program.

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about the author

Alex Macintosh

Alex Macintosh

Director, US Origination
Alex leads the U.S. Origination team and is responsible for increasing the participation of landowners and consulting foresters in the NCX program. Alex and his team also focus on improving and evolving the NCX landowner experience as the company grows. Alex’s prior work experience is focused on product management, most recently at an agriculture services company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, Alex earned his BA from Harvard University.