Global Conservation’s Carbon for Forests is the first forest-based carbon offset program which directly funds the protection and restoration of tropical forests, using advanced satellite monitoring combined with ISO-standard monitoring and verification. We do this by enabling the world’s top 500 carbon emitters to purchase certified carbon offsets, offering them a direct line to give back and protect the world’s wild spaces. 

Our planet has lost over 40% of our tropical forests over the past twenty years. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface, but now they cover only 6%. Experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

How can carbon offsets help save the world’s forests? Carbon offset financing aims to reduce the global amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by incentivizing projects that capture carbon from the air and store it. In our case, we are working with reforestation projects, because forests store enormous amounts of carbon and therefore release an enormous amount of carbon when they are burned or cut down. Protecting all existing forests would represent at least 30 percent of the action needed to keep global temperature rise at or below 2 degrees Celsius. Consequently, we use carbon offset financing to reward projects that promote good forest management.

It works like this:

1. An entity, like a corporation (e.g. an oil company), wants to “offset” their carbon emissions by funding projects that capture carbon. They may do this in an effort to reduce their environmental impact or improve corporate social responsibility.

2. The corporation “buys” a given amount of carbon storage, equivalent to the amount to be offset, from a program like Carbon for Forests.

3. Carbon for Forests reinvests that money into conservation projects that are successfully capturing carbon. The amount of money each conservation project receives is based on how much carbon it is successfully capturing, indicating how successful its reforestation or forest protection programs are. This is called its “Carbon Offset Value”.

4. This results in incentive-based financing for conservation projects while simultaneously combating global climate change.

Working with Nature Needs Half, Carbon for Forests is targeting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks in developing countries with the highest rates of deforestation. By comparing national and regional deforestation rates with gains and losses of forest coverage achieved through protection and reforestation programs, Carbon for Forests is able to accurately estimate the Carbon Offset Value (and changes) of each 1-million-acre (405,000-hectare) forest block for monitoring and verification. There are over 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks in high-deforestation countries that will be suitable for Carbon for Forests funding.

Carbon for Forests signs 20-year carbon offset contracts with Large Carbon Emitters (LCEs), such as oil companies. The financing from these contracts guarantees forest protection and reforestation goals in each national park. Annual payments are made in exchange for performance in park protection and reforestation. If there are unexpected gains or losses in forest coverage and carbon values, annual payments are adjusted accordingly.

The greatest challenge is accurately measuring the amount of carbon stored in an ecosystem in order to track a project’s performance and determine its Carbon Offset Value. To do this, Global Conservation is partnering with the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (ASU GDCS) to use 3D laser (LiDAR) and multi-spectral analysis for carbon value verification. LiDAR provides detailed three-dimensional information of the forest canopy height and structure over large areas. However there is a cost-based limit to the scale of LiDAR measurements. To overcome this, GDCS combines its LiDAR data with satellite images to map forest carbon across millions of hectares. GDCS’s method allows us to monitor carbon in forests with the highest level of detail.

“Our [work] powerfully demonstrates a new capability to not only measure forest carbon stocks from space, but far more critically, to monitor changes in carbon emissions generated by a huge range of activities in forests,” said Greg Asner, director of ASU GDCS. “The days of mapping forests based simply on standing carbon stocks are behind us now. We are focused on carbon emissions, and that’s precisely what is needed to mitigate biodiversity lossand climate change.”

A critical baseline is calculated at the start of each Carbon Offset Contract, with quarterly assessments on progress. All reporting is available 24-7 through an online Carbon for Forests portal. Each year, a review of progress is sent to each investor showing in detail an inventory of all gains and losses in forest coverage and carbon offset values. Based on performance, annual payments are adjusted to reflect decreases/increases in the carbon offset value of the forest protection and reforestation efforts. 

Protecting half a million hectares of tropical forest prevents almost 450 million tons of carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere at a cost of only US$650-900,000 per year, or approximately $13-18 million over 20 years.

Carbon offset financing enables multi-year funding of Global Park Defense for on-the-ground protection of forests and wildlife habitats. Once funding is secured, Global Conservation and our partners support national park authorities to implement Global Park Defense using advanced protection systems, technology, communications and training to achieve “No Cut, No Kill” protection. Our primary goal is to eliminate illegal logging and land clearing, and to reforest destroyed or degraded areas to improve forest coverage and carbon values.

Why Carbon for Forests?

  • Protects large intact forests and funds reforestation for damaged forests in and around national parks over 25 years. Carbon offsets include both avoided deforestation and reforestation
  • Directly funds park protection, monitoring and enforcement using Global Park Defense methodology
  • Reduces CO2 emissions from forest fires due to land clearing and illegal development
  • Offers a global portfolio of intact forests for carbon offsets to align with corporate social responsibility
  • Generates growth and employment through sustainable tourism to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks, including new infrastructure, roads and community services
  • Builds capacity in developing countries for park and forest protection, sustainable tourism and resource management
  • ISO-standard verification and monitoring based on advanced satellite monitoring and science-based forest and carbon offset accounting
  • Insured for performance against catastrophic forest losses