One significant step closer to full certification

Improving forest carbon projects means evolving how we measure

Forests are one of the first and best means we have to remove carbon from the atmosphere, a powerful option in the climate action portfolio, absorbing 8.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. But how we design and measure forest carbon projects hasn’t always lived up to the potential or the intentions – with many failing to drive real climate impact. We’ve seen many of these failed projects highlighted in publications like Bloomberg and ProPublica. Not unlike the “horseless carriage” or mobile phone, we can’t stop at our first designs. It’s time forest carbon projects do the same. To raise the bar on quality forest carbon credits, we created Natural Capital Exchange. And now, we are working with Verra to certify the integrity of its carbon credits.

As we develop a step change in forest carbon programs, it is critical to hold ourselves to the highest scientific integrity. The Natural Capital Exchange approach is based on IPCC science, timber economics, and cutting-edge statistical models, and we have worked with academics to hone it. While we already hold ourselves to the highest standards by adhering to best practices such as third-party validation and inclusion on a transparent registry, engaging a certification body such as Verra holds us accountable to the bold vision we've laid out. This enables us to further strengthen the program, engage key stakeholders in making it better, and solicit feedback in a structured way.

Working with Verra to advance access, transparency, and quality

We chose to work with Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (“VCS”) Program because it is a recognized leader in voluntary carbon offset trading with a global reach. Credit buyers and observers trust the Verra brand, and so do we. The organization has demonstrated a commitment to innovation through its consideration of how novel methodologies and technologies can scale impact and improve quality.

Verified Carbon Unit (VCU) concept note acceptance

“Verra is excited about the potential of NCX’s methodology, in particular its incorporation of ton-year accounting and its use of remote sensing to improve measurements both for baselining and for project monitoring. We believe this approach has the potential to unlock greater supply, reduce monitoring costs, address issues of project reversibility, and increase transparency in forest carbon markets.” - Verra

NCX has received concept note acceptance from Verra on the methodology titled “Methodology for IFM/ERA through Targeted, Short-Term Harvest Deferral” for calculating the climate impact of forest carbon. This is a significant step on the way to full certification and raising the bar on forest carbon credit quality. Third-party certifiers reassure buyers of carbon credits that project accounting is based on sound science and methods that will drive real climate impact; knowing certified credits have been developed according to best practices, received a third-party review, and are securely and transparently accounted for on a registry.

The Methodology

This methodology unlocks climate impact at scale by leveraging remote sensing technology to democratize access to forest carbon markets. Under the Methodology for IFM/ERA through Targeted, Short-Term Harvest Deferral forest landowners and managers are paid to reduce the amount of harvest activity on their properties, thereby growing older and more carbon-rich forests. But scale isn’t the only improvement over legacy forest carbon programs. Through more rigorous and specific baselining, leakage assessment, this methodology ensures consistent quality and real impact of all delivered carbon credits. This is achieved through remote sensing-assisted inventory methods, significantly reducing the verification and monitoring cost without sacrificing quality--which means that landowners with as few as 40 acres can participate and that projects can be run that span hundreds of thousands of different forest properties all at once.

To support this revolutionary approach, the methodology uses a ton-year accounting method that is centered on the IPCC’s framework for accounting for the climate impact of GHGs. Instead of using the conventional approach of long-duration storage with a buffer pool to protect against future non-delivery or “reversals,” it only credits carbon “upon delivery” once it’s been verifiably stored on the forest landscape. This increases certainty for buyers and sellers and pays for the immediate climate impact we need rather than the impact that may happen someday, maybe.

The Future of Forest Carbon Markets

Forest carbon has great potential as a tool in the path to net zero. But, to ensure we live up to that potential, how we approach quantifying and crediting must evolve. As organizations race to decarbonize economies and supply chains with carbon offsets to help close the gap and accelerate progress, we must continue innovating to ensure carbon credits measure up to our ambition.

To learn more about the methodology or certification reach out to us at info@ncx.com