Carbon Credits? Maybe.

Urban forestry advocates have long dreamed of earning carbon credits from urban forests; a vast body of research suggests the benefits could be substantial. But reality hasn’t yet caught up with the research. Consider the case in California, where the state’s Climate Action Reserve released its long-awaited revision of protocols for issuing urban forest carbon credits. Virtually all in the California urban forestry field believed that their first efforts were too complex and expensive for many communities or property owners to participate.

Many advocates believe the new protocols, one for tree planting and one for urban forest management projects, may be more cost-effective. However, few expect many sign-ups as costs remain high and the protocols themselves are intricate and difficult to implement. As Nancy Hughes, Executive Director of the California Urban Forest Council commented, “Even though the new draft protocols are improved and maintain their rigor and ensure permanence, appropriate documentation and verification, etc., the economic, legal, and logistical hurdles are still too great to enroll significant participation.” [Fall, 2014]

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