Thursday, June 30, 2016

Carbon-certified Bear Creek Watershed (Astoria)

Date of Visit: June 30, 2016
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Carbon credits for watersheds and forests
Organization: City of Astoria
Location: Bear Creek Watershed, Astoria, Oregon
Host: David Ford / L&C Carbon
International Fellows: Abiodun Solanke (Nigeria), Adam Wasiak (Poland), Andrea Cornejo (Nicaragua), Ana de Miguel (Spain), Karishmaa Pai (India), Samantha Kwan (Malaysia), Yu Lei (China)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Rick Zenn /Senior Fellow, Michael Zhan (Intern)

The Bear Creek Astoria watershed presents an interesting forest management initiative where the 3,700 acre catchment has been carbon certified. This has provided an innovative and generous economic benefit for the city, amounting to $2 million earned through the sale of carbon credits on the voluntary market in just the first 2 years of management (project extends to 50 years). It is important to clarify that the case of the Astoria Watershed is unique; the land is own by the City of Astoria which allows the city to manage the forest for carbon credits.

How it works:
Carbon credits are awarded when a company or forest land (in this case) go beyond the baseline to store or improve carbon sequestration and reduce carbon emissions. The Bear Creek forest area accumulates carbon credits through 3 actions which result in a longer storage of carbon within tree stands and extends the life of the ecosystem within:
  • Extending their rotation
  • Delaying timber harvest
  • Reducing volume of harvest
Carbon credits are not mandatory in Oregon, as is the case in California, so the voluntary action for the watershed has reaped many benefits in terms of growing carbon stocks, ecological benefits as well as additional revenue for the City for other public services. The sale was mediated by Portland-based The Climate Trust, processed under the American Carbon Registry (ACR) protocol and the credits were purchased by a power plant to offset their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Facts in a Nutshell:
  • Carbon credits bought: 245,000
  • Greenhouse gas equivalent: 51,000 passenger vehicles
  • Project cost: $ 175,000
  • Project income: $ 2,000,000

International Fellow Reflection
Karishmaa Pai (India),
World Forest Institute

Seeing a certified forest system in person makes the concept of ecosystem services a reality. It provides a source of motivation for cities with low funds and numerous pressures which face an ever-increasing strain on limited natural and monetary resources.

By giving a viable financial alternative to conserve and grow more forests, initiatives can be made to increase urban and peri-urban forests at the state, city or private and corporate level. Through my project and research in Portland, I hope to find innovative ‘ecosystem marketplace’ methods to incentivise the corporate sector to invest their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds into urban forests. The focus on urban forests is because cities in India, and around Asia, are growing exponentially. Population pressures, urban development and concrete expansion are removing the few patches of urban forest and street trees left in our cities that provide an important source of temperature control, carbon sequestration, flood barriers and habitats.

In 2014, India became the first country in the world to mandate that corporations need to dedicate 2% of their profits to CSR. Using corporate funding as a tool to fund the long-term preservation and growth of new forests on unutilised land is a potential idea.

Quick Facts about Urban Forestry in Mumbai, India:
  • Green cover: <16%
  • Tree to human ratio: 15 trees for 100 people
  • Number of tree species: 327 of which 88 are rare

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