Improved Forest Management
This project provides a textbook example of how carbon offsets work. The picturesque city of Astoria, Oregon, lies at the mouth of the Columbia River. The city owns Bear Creek Watershed Forest—3,700 acres full of Douglas firs, western red cedars, and western hemlocks about 10 miles southeast of town. Astoria uses the forest as a source of drinking water and of revenue from annual logging. In 2015, the city came to an agreement with The Climate Trust, a nonprofit organization that finances carbon mitigation projects. The city committed to significantly reduce its timber harvest. In return, the trust bought 245,000 carbon credits, also known as carbon offsets.
A carbon offset represents the reduction of 1 metric ton (2,205 pounds) of carbon dioxide emissions. That reduction can be accomplished in many ways. A project might avoid the emissions in the first place, capture and store CO2 before it’s emitted, or, as the Bear Creek Watershed Forest Carbon Project does, absorb (sequester) CO2 from the atmosphere. Having more trees in the forest because of reduced harvesting means that the forest sequesters more carbon that it otherwise would have. The American Carbon Registry verification agency found that during the first year of improved forest management, the Bear Creek Watershed project actually exceeded the carbon offsets goal, sequestering 262,154 metric tons of carbon above what the forest would have stored under its old management plan. (You can find verification documents at https://acr2.apx.com/mymodule/reg/TabDocuments.asp?r=111&ad=Prpt&act=update&type=PRO&aProj=pub&tablename=doc&id1=272.)
Ken Cook, Astoria's public works manager at the time of the offsets sale, said the city couldn't have afforded to reduce timber harvesting without the offsets. "In the absence of carbon revenue," he said, "the project activity of limiting timber harvest could not be sustained, as it is important that city assets, like the Bear Creek Watershed, generate long-term sustainable revenue for the benefit of its citizens."
Cloverly buys offsets that meet accepted standards for being real, measurable, verifiable, permanent, and additional. "Additional" means that—as is the case with the Bear Creek Watershed Project—the carbon savings would not have happened without the offset project and the project would not have happened unless it got certified to sell carbon offsets. Projects can produce many offsets during a year, depending on how many tons of carbon they avoid, offset, or sequester. So a project may appear more than once in the Cloverly portfolio. You can tell the year of the offset by the date in the web address for each project: "12-months-starting-[month]-[year]." For a list of all the projects in our portfolio and an interactive map, see https://cloverly.com/offset-map.