Alliance for Community Trees News

Working with Non-Profit Carbon Registry to Preserve and Plant City Forests

By Conni Kunzler | January 15, 2018

Source: Contributed by Mark McPherson, City Forest Credits

Seattle, WA (January 15, 2018) – Many Alliance for Community Trees members provide vital tree-planting services to their cities, towns, and communities. Preservation of urban forests is also critical, but urban foresters often lack money and tools to preserve canopy. City budgets are strained, and obtaining more stringent development regulations or tree protective ordinances can be challenging. Here’s how the Urban Forest Carbon Registry can help.

The Urban Forest Carbon Registry, a non-profit organization based in Seattle, has developed a first-ever Tree Preservation Protocol that enables forest preservation projects to earn carbon credits and bring in new funding sources. The Registry is working with Alliance members and other longtime urban forest professionals in a number of cities to help them develop both preservation and planting programs.

Creating Longer-Term Programs for New Funding from Credit Buyers

Most of the early adopters of this opportunity are looking not just at projects, but at creation of longer-term plans and programs to connect buyers to local non-profits and cities.

As Mark McPherson, the Director of the Registry, said, “The City Forest Carbon+ Credit developed by our scientists is a great opportunity to recruit new buyers and new funding sources, not just for one project but as part of a longer-term program. And not just for planting, but for preservation.”

Ian Leahy, the Director of Urban Forestry for American Forests, has worked on the protocol drafting group and the Board of Advisors for the Registry. “We have corporate partners, like Bank of America and Coca-Cola, who want to fund urban projects in Miami and the Seattle area. They want a presence in those cities, and they also want to deliver quantified environmental benefits locally.”

Some of the organizations at work are TreeFolks and the City of Austin, Canopy and the City of Palo Alto, American Forests, King County, WA, the Mountains to Sound Greenway in the Seattle area, Friends of the Urban Forest and the City of San Francisco, and Texas Trees Foundation in Dallas. All have unique opportunities and challenges that reflect their communities, climate, and stakeholders.

Projects in process range from a large riparian planting in Austin, Texas, with both TreeFolks and the City involved, to a large-scale preservation program in King County, WA.

King County’s program is part of the County’s Land Conservation Initiative. The County and its dozens of cities are working to accelerate protection of open space and creation of parks and trails to meet the needs of a rapidly-growing Seattle metro area. This collaborative effort has identified hundreds of at-risk forested parcels on thousands of acres of land throughout the Seattle urban area, in addition to tens of thousands of acres of upper-watershed lands.

Those who attended Arbor Day’s Partners conference in November may have heard Walter Passmore, the City Forester of Palo Alto, describe this work. As Walter said, “Carbon credits will not solve all of our funding needs, but they hold a lot of promise both now and in the future as a tool in our kit to preserve, plant, and grow our city forests.”

New Name: City Forest Credits

The Registry also recently announced a name change. The new name is City Forest Credits. It is a non-profit registry issuing Carbon+ Credits for city forests: “Same mission, same non-profit organization made possible by the work of many urban forest professionals,” said McPherson.

“We found that the terms ‘urban” and “urban forestry’ do not connect well with either funders or the person on the street,” said McPherson. “The word ‘City’ ties to resilient cities, smart cities, carbon neutral cities. We also believe that the buyers of City Forest Carbon+ Credits will include sustainability and water-neutrality buyers. So we wanted to emphasize the credit as well as the carbon.”

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