Avoiding Deforestation and Rewarding Forestry Investment
A new project methodology – developed by Australia’s Carbon Planet – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Improved Forest Management has successfully completed a first independent assessment under the VCS Methodology Approval Process. Meanwhile, a Tanzanian reforestation project became the first forestry investment to earn carbon offsets under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), which will assure investors the emissions cuts are credible and long-term.
Carbon Planet Methodology Completes First Review under VCS Approval Process:
Improved Forest Management Methodology Now Enters Second Review
Monday 27 September 2010 – WASHINGTON – A new project methodology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Improved Forest Management has completed a first independent assessment and now begins a second independent assessment under the VCS Methodology Approval Process.
The methodology, whose title is “Estimating GHG Emission Reductions from Planned Degradation (Improved Forest Management),” is designed to reduce selective logging rates in forested areas by creating an alternative revenue stream for indigenous peoples to replace or exceed revenues from selective logging.
The new methodology was developed by Carbon Planet, a global carbon management organization, and submitted to the Methodology Approval Process to be reviewed and approved for use under the VCS Program. It must be reviewed by two independent auditors before being approved for use under the VCS Program, at which point projects using the methodology will be eligible to issue GHG credits, known as Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs).
Dave Sag, the founder and executive director of Carbon Planet, told abc carbon express this was a very significant development for Australia, which has pushed hard through the private sector, to gain recognition for avoided deforestation.
He explained that much of the work leading to this VCS approval process has been done in Australia by Carbon Planet’s Dr Samuel Phua. This approach is a lot like taking a life cycle assessment of a product. This measures the cost to the environment and the economy of deforestation and rewards communities for investing in alternative “clean” economic activity.
Effective 27 September, the methodology has completed a first independent assessment by the Rainforest Alliance and now enters the second assessment phase. The second independent auditor, Bureau Veritas, was contracted directly by the VCS Association.
All documentation is available on the VCS website, including the first assessment report and revised methodology.
The Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) is the most widely used GHG accounting standard among projects issuing credits in the voluntary carbon market. Founded in 2005 by the Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association and the World Sustainable Development Business Council, the VCS has pioneered flexible and reliable tools for generating quality GHG credits with environmental integrity and lasting value.
The VCS Methodology Approval Process is a unique approach for the development of new and refined project methodologies to reduce GHG emissions. By providing an avenue for project developers to propose new methodologies or refine existing methodologies for GHG mitigation, it allows projects to effectively address the real challenges they encounter on the ground.
Reuters report by Nina Chestney (29 September 2010):
Demand for voluntary carbon credits will be given a boost after the first forestry project earned offsets last week under an industry-backed standard.
The voluntary carbon market, which operates outside mandatory emissions cutting schemes, had been waiting for such a move, as players gear up for participation in a multi-billion U.N. deforestation emissions reduction mechanism.
“It could trigger a boom. Everyone has been waiting…so hopefully we finally see some forestry credits come to market,” said a market participant, who declined to be named
Last week, a Tanzanian reforestation project became the first forestry investment to earn carbon offsets under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), which will assure investors the emissions cuts are credible and long-term.
The project in the southern highlands of Tanzania involves converting degraded grassland into sustainably harvested eucalypt and pine forests that soak up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow, earning CO2 offsets.
Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide and scientists say curbing deforestation is a key way to fight climate change.
A UN-backed scheme, called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), is not yet formally part of a broader U.N. climate deal but buyers of carbon credits are still investing in the sector as they expect REDD to be highly lucrative in the future.
“Many have been waiting on the sidelines for others to make the first moves and in particular address the permanence issue,” Grattan MacGiffin, head of GTE Global Trading Ltd, told Reuters.
“(California’s) Climate Action Registry has been doing forestry for a while but the VCS news is bigger, potentially adding impetus to the growing support for a CDM REDD methodology to be given the green light,” he added.
Carbon offset organization ICROA said the voluntary market has helped bring forestry offset projects into the mainstream and could help shape REDD’s future structure.
“One reason why the voluntary market has embraced forestry projects is because they are emotive and conceptually easier for business and consumer customers to grasp,” said Sascha Lafeld, ICROA’S co-chair.
In 2009, forestation and reforestation was among the top three most popular project types in the market