Project at a glance: The Arcata City Forest Barnum Tract is a community forest located in Northern California creating verified carbon offsets through the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Forest Project Protocol.
About the protocol: Forests can sequester carbon dioxide (C02) in a variety of ways. Carbon is stored in the trunks, leaves, branches and roots of trees. Carbon is also stored in the forest soil, understory plants and green “litter” on the forest floor. An Improved Forest Management Project under the CAR Forest Project Protocol involves changing forest management practices to increase carbon stocks on forested land relative to baseline (or “business as usual”) levels of carbon stocks. In other words, Improved Forest Management helps forests sequester more carbon.
About the project: Offsets from this project come from a tract of land that was purchased and added to the City of Arcata’s community forest in 2003. The land was purchased from a timber company and was determined to be at high risk of intensive harvesting or cutting. The forest is now certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) management standards and absorbs and stores approximately 2,500 more metric tons of C02 a year than neighboring forests, or the equivalent of taking 550 cars off the road each year. The sale of carbon offsets is a critical component of the funding for the management of the forest, which is completely self-funded with no reliance on tax-payer dollars.
About the offsets: Forestry offsets save trees. Forestry project verification periods often cover extended periods of time relative to other offset project types. The Arcata City Forest Barnum Tract initial verification period ran from the start of the project in 2003 until 2011. These offsets are for carbon that was captured and stored by tree growth in 2004. When you buy offsets from this project, you are saving the trees by paying for the sequestration of carbon for the long term (100 years or more). Forest project verifications are a labor intensive process which measures the actual growth of trees in the forest during the verification period. The tree measurements are then used to calculate the amount of carbon sequestered over that period of time. This requires professional foresters who are knowledgeable about the tract of land and are able to spend time collecting data in the forest.
Environmental co-benefits: This project creates many environmental co-benefits, most of which arise from the role that the project plays in strengthening the “wildland-urban interface,” or natural buffer between the town of Arcata and the surrounding wild areas. This in turn supports other important projects such as stream restoration for the protection of steelhead trout and salmon, additional habitat structure for nesting raptors, and habitat for the northern spotted owl.
Community impact: The Arcata City Forest is striving to be a model community forest for the West Coast. The forest provides recreational and educational opportunities to the community. Additionally, the forest has created learning opportunityies for the timber companies in the area and a dialog between those companies and the local community. The sustainable management of the forest provides a local working example of forest conservation and has helped to influence forest management on other privately owned parcels of land.