New standard for urban forest offset projects aims to engage more cities and urban areas

June 25, 2014

Climate Action Reserve adopts new version of its Urban Forest Project Protocol

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Board of Directors of the Climate Action Reserve, an environmental nonprofit organization and North America’s premier carbon offset registry, today adopted an updated version of the Urban Forest Project Protocol (UFPP). The protocol provides a standardized approach for developing offset projects from managing and planting trees in urban areas and significantly expands the land area that’s eligible to be developed into an offset project. This expansion and other updates aim to make urban forest offset projects more feasible for more cities and urban areas.

“There’s tremendous potential to store carbon in trees and reduce urban heat island effects, and cities across the country have expressed great interest in doing this. This was a challenging project type under the previous versions of the Urban Forest Project Protocol, but we expect there will be widespread use of the updated protocol,” said Linda Adams, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of the Climate Action Reserve Board of Directors. “The protocol presents a wonderful opportunity for cities to address climate change, improve the beauty of their surroundings and earn revenue that they can either invest in more urban forest management or in other sustainability initiatives.”

The most significant update of the new protocol version, which was developed with support from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CalFIRE) and extensive contributions from a diverse workgroup, is the introduction of urban forest management. Cities and urban areas can earn offset credits across an entire urban area by adopting activities – such as managing healthy, vigorous trees that are well-spaced and avoiding tree removals – that increase the total amount of carbon stored in the trees. As established under the previous versions of the protocol, cities and urban areas can also still earn offset credits by planting trees to increase the amount of carbon sequestered and stored. The protocol adopted today, though, addresses increases in carbon throughout a community, which means there is greater potential for more trees to be part of an urban forest project.

Other updates to the protocol include revisions to the guidelines for monitoring and verification of the projects and rules for project aggregation.

“Our main goal with the update of the Urban Forest Project Protocol was to increase the accessibility and usability of the protocol without compromising the integrity of the standard. Thanks to feedback from cities like Santa Monica and CalFIRE and the contributions from the protocol workgroup members, we have a strong urban forest protocol that can serve as an important tool for cities to not only address climate change, but also to reduce the urban heat island effect, provide habitat, and help clean the air,” said Gary Gero, President of the Climate Action Reserve.