In order for a forest carbon project to help reduce the buildup of carbon pollution that is causing climate change, it must address certain issues, including:
- Permanence, which, simply stated, is the life of the project. It wouldn’t help to reduce climate change much if a tree were planted or saved one year only to be cut the next. The most desirable forest carbon projects are those where the restored and protected forests are likely to remain intact indefinitely.
- Additionality, which refers to the amount of carbon dioxide captured, stored or prevented from reaching the atmosphere compared to what would happen without the project. In other words, is this something that would have happened anyway?
- Leakage, which occurs when emissions avoided within a site are not eliminated, but rather displaced to another location, or when carbon capture and storage at a site leads to land clearing elsewhere.
- Measurement and monitoring, which entails periodic field measurements of forest growth and associated capture and storage of carbon, as well as, in some cases, analysis of satellite imagery and models of forest growth and deforestation.
- Verification, of carbon benefits by an accredited independent third-party, which occurs periodically throughout the life of a project to ensure it meets its intended goals of carbon storage and that all additionality, measurement, leakage and permanence requirements are being met.