Reforestation can be a climate mitigation and adaptation win-win.
The Earth’s climate is already changing and as we continue to work on reducing emissions and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, we should also be prioritizing climate adaptation and resiliency measures. In December, I highlighted the overlapping strategies between forest carbon offset projects and climate adaptation activities described in the USFS’s 2016 Forest Adaptation Resources publication. In addition to those strategies, which mainly contemplate standing forests, it is important to recognize the role reforestation projects play in climate adaption.
Reforestation projects, especially those on land burnt over by wildfire in the western United States, present a compelling opportunity to prepare the ecosystem for changing climatic conditions especially with respect to reducing wildfire risk. This can be accomplished by replanting wide areas with the appropriate native species, determining tree spacing, and conducting density and fuels management with an eye towards creating native forest carbon sinks that will not only mitigate climate change but will reduce erosion, improve water quality and provide critical habitat for wildlife.
Offset buyers interested in benefits beyond carbon reduction should consider reforestation projects, as well as improved forest management projects, for their portfolios. This is especially true for Climate Action Reserve’s Climate Forward reforestation methodology, which requires projects to assess their planting strategy with future climate conditions in mind. The Climate Trust has begun work to develop what we think will be the first Climate Forward projects on lands recently burnt by wildfire. The credits generated by the Climate Forward methodology are designed to provide early finance for the high capital costs associated with reforestation. Carbon methodologies that support reforestation address climate change adaptation and mitigation goals. Voluntary offset buyers looking for a win-win should strongly consider these credits.
News + Resources
The Climate Trust, Scorcher
Climate Forward Reforestation
Climate Action Reserve