Posted by Matt on Tuesday, October 12, 2010.

New redwood forest offset project

We’ve just added a new project to our carbon offset portfolio, the Big River and Salmon Creek forests. Comprising a combined 16,000 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest in Northern California’s Mendocino County, these two tracts of land were recently purchased from a timber company by a consortium of conservation groups and converted to sustainable management. They represent a hopeful example of nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and private interests coming together to find creative land management solutions that maximize carbon sequestration and forest biodiversity while preserving sustainable forestry jobs and recreation opportunities. We’re pleased to play a role.

The project generates offsets by increasing forest carbon reserves. The transition from traditional logging practices to sustainable management involves halving timber extraction, harvesting trees more selectively to maintain diversity, and increasing and restoring riparian buffers along rivers. By substantially increasing the density and average size of trees, carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere at higher rates into larger reserves of above- and below-ground carbon stocks.

The carbon offsets are certified under the Climate Action Registry, an offset standard that includes a rigorous set of protocols to verify the credits represent legitimate carbon reductions. One important aspect is the verification of additionality, which in this case is established by demonstrating dependency on revenue from offset sales to repay the loan taken out to purchase the land from the timber company.

In addition to clear climate benefits, the Big River and Salmon Creek project is a major boon for biodiversity and local community, which is also important under our carbon offset policy. Restored riparian buffers will improve water quality for threatened stocks of Coho salmon and steelhead trout, and increased forest cover and structural diversity offer improved habitat for Northern Spotted Owls and threatened terrestrial species. Local communities will benefit from the continued existence of sustainable tibmer jobs, as well as increased recreational access under the new management regime.

The addition of these projects to Brighter Planet’s portfolio represents a strategic diversification of our carbon offset blend, introducing sink-side forest offsets for the first time. This move was largely in response to customer demand — our most recent member survey revealed sustainable forestry as a top-ranking project type of interest alongside renewable energy. We are meeting this demand with these top-notch domestic forestry projects that verifiably reduce carbon pollution while providing key ecological and economic benefits that help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

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