Two California Forests Commit to New Protocols to Protect Global Climate

Two California Forests Commit to New Protocols to Protect Global Climate

Two privately owned California forests have become the first forestlands to join the California Climate Action Registry. The landowners announced their intent to remove over 3 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere -- the annual emissions equivalent of over 500,000 cars -- during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP11) meeting.

The greenhouse gas benefits from the two forests will be achieved through sustainable forest management practices that improve the quality of forest habitat and streams while maintaining wood product production.

The first site is the Garcia River Forest, established in February 2004 by The Conservation Fund in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, California Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board. The property is subject to a permanent conservation easement, which ensures that the land will be protected as forest forever. About two-thirds of the land will be managed under a sustainable harvest regime designed to increase carbon stocks over time. The remainder will be managed as an ecological reserve for the reestablishment of old forest habitat.

"This project is creating a model for large-scale forestland conservation for California's North Coast," said the Conservation Fund's California representative, Chris Kelly. "By balancing economic and environmental objectives, we are pioneering a unique approach to forest conservation that combats climate change, preserves wildlife habitat, fosters the local timber economy and ensures the long-term restoration and management of these forests for future generations."

The second site is a tract of forest in Humboldt County, which is also secured with a permanent conservation easement. The property is owned by the Van Eck Foundation and managed by the Pacific Forest Trust.

Created in 2000, the California Climate Action Registry establishes accounting standards and helps organizations to track, publicly report, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The registry recently developed new protocols that lay out a practical accounting of carbon emissions and reductions via forest conservation, improved management practices, and reforestation. These are the first forests to make use of the new forestry protocols.

“The registry’s forest protocols provide the critical accounting framework for any future greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs and serve as an incentive to landowners to combat global warming while fostering other, much-needed environmental benefits.” said Laurie Wayburn, president of the Pacific Forest Trust. “With the Van Eck Forest, we are helping to protect private working forestlands and the suite of public benefits they provide. The registry’s forest protocols give us the guidance and opportunity to quantify the climate benefits of these forests, so that the landowner may receive a financial reward in the future for its stewardship.

“This is an important step forward for California’s forests in playing a role in the fight against climate change,” said Diane Wittenberg, president of the California Registry. “It’s a great model and I expect other California forest landowners to participate as well.”