Carbon Offset Project

In 2013 California launched the carbon offset program as part of a larger initiative to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 60% of 1990 emissions. Under this initiative, California established emission limits for regulated entities. These limits decrease each year. If a regulated entity emits more than it is allowed, it can offset up to 8% of its allowed carbon dioxide by purchasing carbon offsets from LRCT and other landowners.

In the spring of 2018, LRCT registered 8,000 acres of its owned conserved properties in a forest carbon project with California’s Carbon Offset Program. LRCT’s properties contain more carbon than the surrounding forests as established by the US Forest Service, and this additional carbon was monetized as carbon offsets by the State of California’s Carbon Offset program. The additional stored carbon of LRCT’s forests is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of 80,000 automobiles. Now that the project is registered, LRCT may not harvest the amount of carbon that was issued as carbon offsets, however, LRCT may harvest the growth of the forest each year if it chooses to do so.  In 2020 LRCT sold its offsets to a company that develops renewable energy resources and holds carbon offset assets. 

LRCT used its carbon offset revenue to install solar panels on LRCT’s headquarters and to support LRCT’s long-term land stewardship and management responsibilities and secure the protection of wildlife habitat, water resources, climate resiliency, scenic values, and recreational opportunities on LRCT conserved lands. To fulfill the requirements of California’s program, LRCT must manage its project forests sustainably and inventory their carbon content periodically for the next 100 years.

LRCT joins other New England conservation groups, including the Appalachian Mountain Club and New England Forestry Foundation in participating in the California Carbon Offset program to support forest conservation and to help protect the planet.

Ensuring Carbon Content

Two key steps in the registration process for a forest carbon project are the forest inventory and its verification steps. You may notice signs of the inventory work when visiting LRCT properties.  So that you’ll understand what you’re seeing, we want to tell you a little about the process:

Carbon Offset Plot Tree

During the inventory, a set of permanent circular plot sites are established, evenly spaced throughout the project site. Each plot site has a radius of 37.2 feet, and the plots are centered on a metal rod secured into the ground. There are 192 plot sites a quarter mile apart from one another on the LRCT-owned lands that are part of the forest carbon project.

Within each plot, foresters measure the height and diameter of all living and standing dead trees larger than five inches at breast height. These trees are numbered and marked with paint and in some cases, with a metal tag. Inventory of three plots requires a day’s work by a skilled forester. After the measurements have been completed, the carbon content is calculated for each plot and then a statistical process is used to determine the carbon content of the entire project area.

For more information, click on the photo below to view the Land Trust Alliance’s Saving Land Magazine “Looking to the Land to Mitigate Climate Change” featuring LRCT’s Carbon Project.

Additional Information About Carbon Offset Programs