A more rigorous methodology has been approved to help forest projects verify their carbon credits. Verra accepted the first-of-its-kind carbon accounting methodology for Improved Forest Management (IFM), designed to provide more measurable proof of climate impact and solve access challenges for small forest landowners.
The methodology is now officially accepted for use in the United States and around the world, after a rigorous multi-year evaluation process. It was developed by the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to be used for the organizations’ Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP).
The FFCP helps owners of forests as small as 30 acres participate in carbon projects. Normally, forest carbon project participants are properties of 5,000 acres or more and owners of small forest properties have been kept out of 99% of those projects.
That is mainly due to the high upfront costs and complexity of launching them. However, 61% of the climate mitigation potential in US forests lies with small, family-owned pieces of forests.
The Family Forest Carbon Program, thanks in part to this new carbon accounting methodology, removes market entry barriers for owners of small forest properties, allowing them to earn income from their land.
This is also the first forestry methodology verified by Verra that uses an innovative concept called a dynamic baseline rather than a projected baseline. That means the methodology compares the carbon sequestered on a forest enrolled in a carbon program, to a control group or synthetic composite of highly similar forests that are not enrolled in the program.
The methodology measures the difference of carbon sequestered over time to provide more discernible proof of additionality. Additionality means a project sequesters and stores carbon that would not have occurred absent the project.
“The concept of dynamic baselines has been around for a while, but it took years of hard work and scientific consultation on the part of AFF, TNC, and TerraCarbon to turn those concepts into a rigorous methodology that works in the forestry sector,” said Spencer Plumb, Manager, Forest Carbon Innovation at Verra.
TerraCarbon LLC is an Illinois-based leading advisory firm that helps develop carbon offset projects. The organization supports natural climate solutions that involve restoration, improved management, and conservation activities that increase carbon storage. It also provides a full range of services including methodology development, feasibility analysis, and project monitoring.