First forest carbon improvement plan approved
US environmental consultancy EcoTrust has won approval for the first carbon offset project methodology in improved forest management (IFM) under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). IFM is a relatively new field of carbon crediting activity taking on heightened importance following the widening of the international REDD initiative on deforestation to include forest restoration and sustainable forest management - so called REDD-plus.
Ecotrust confirmed last week the approval of its proposed project methodology for increasing carbon storage in forests sustainably-managed for timber supply by extending the rotation age of trees for harvest. The methodology passed the VCS’s double approval process for new carbon offsetting project approaches, which requires two independent third-party assessments.
IFM is one of the eligible carbon project activities as yet untapped under the VCS’s programme for agriculture, forestry and other land uses (AFOLU), which includes avoided deforestation and afforestation & reforestation.
Ecotrust is active in forestry in the US Pacific North West and Canada, and based in Portland, Oregon. The essence of its project approach on IFM is to identify the increase in carbon stock in trees’ above-ground biomass, dead wood and wood products resulting from the application of a longer harvest cycle. VCS carbon credits, called voluntary carbon units, would be issued for extra carbon stored in the forest then sold into the voluntary carbon market. Ecostrust had to provide evidence that the revenue from the sale of voluntary carbon credits was an incentive to undertake such project activity - presumably important in compensating forest owners for the timber revenue loss from delaying harvest events.
The methodology applies to forestry activity involving clear-cut or patch-cut practices and any project must achieve Forestry Stewardship Council certification. A project must not lead to a decrease in total volume harvested of more than 25 per cent over the life of the project relative to the baseline. Steve Dettman, forest carbon program manager at Ecotrust, told Sustainable Business Oregon that the company’s objective was to diversify the revenue options for forest owners in favour of more careful approaches to forest management.
The VCS Association has announced a consultation over the proposed inclusion in its eligible AFOLU project activities of peatland rewetting and conservation. Peatland draining is estimated to be a major contributor to greenhouse emissions from deforestation and land clearing in tropical developing countries.