Breakthrough Ecotrust tool advances carbon markets

Release Date: 05-20-2010

Oakley Brooks

Senior Media Manager
503.467.0779

New tool for forest managers helps improve the bottom line and reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

PORTLAND, Ore. – Ecotrust today announced the approval of a methodology for launching forest carbon projects that will make it much easier for forest managers around the globe to participate in both the voluntary and emerging compliance carbon markets.

Ecotrust’s work represents the first Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) methodology to have completed the Voluntary Carbon Standard’s (VCS) double approval process. This methodology defines a common way for landowners to quantify the additional amounts of carbon they will store in forests as a result of more ecologically-friendly management practices.

Here’s how the methodology works: forest managers who want to sell carbon offsets must first demonstrate that their harvest activities store more carbon than standard harvest practices in their region. They must also show a commitment to becoming Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified; FSC is an independent, non-governmental, nonprofit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Once these eligibility requirements are met, a forest manager defines the management activities that they will undertake and determines a baseline against which the project will be compared. The entire methodology — which serves as a functional checklist for developing a carbon offset project — can be downloaded from the VCS website (http://v-c-s.org/VM0003.html); the methodology is known as the Methodology for Improved Forest Management through Extension of Rotation Age — Approved VCS Methodology VM0003 Version 1.0.

To develop this methodology, Ecotrust worked with Winrock International, an organization trusted worldwide to bring the most cutting edge, innovative approaches to carbon estimation and accounting. “The methodology is a product of many years work under regulatory and voluntary standards. We have created a practical methodology with high scientific rigor that has broad applicability. It is our hope that this forms a new tool to help launch forest carbon offset projects around the world,” said Winrock’s Dr. Tim Pearson.

As required by the VCS double approval process, the methodology was posted for a 30-day public comment period, and then submitted to two VCS-accredited reviewers — Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and Det Norske Veritas (DNV) — for review and approval. SCS is a leader in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, and has audited voluntary carbon offset project on five continents. DNV has been the global market leader in the validation and verification of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) greenhouse gas emission reduction projects and has been a global provider of services for managing risk since its founding in 1864.

The methodology arrives at a time when the world needs rigorous approaches to ensure that carbon offsets are real, permanent, measurable and verified by an accredited authority. David Antonioli, CEO of the VCS Association said, “This is a tremendous milestone, and a huge boon for the forestry sector and for the VCS. Ecotrust has demonstrated that the VCS double approval process is a workable framework that ensures rigor and allows for innovation. As more methodologies go through the double approval process, we’ll soon be seeing a lot of new projects and voluntary offset credits being issued, particularly in the forestry sector, and that is incredibly exciting.”

###

About Ecotrust
Over nearly 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $60 million in grants into more than $300 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the world’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and children’s health, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it honors and supports the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership in its work. More on the Web at www.ecotrust.org.