Forest Based Projects

Forest-based carbon offset projects are climate projects that protect, restore or enhance an ecosystem and so fall under the broad category of Nature-based Solutions.

They generate sustainability co-benefits beyond carbon, helping to sustain communities, enhance ecosystem functions, improve resilience, arrest biodiversity declines and much more.

Nature-based climate solutions use ecosystem services to provide a sustainability dividend to address the twin imperatives of climate change and sustainability.

Where a project using a Nature-based Solution is able to quantify its impact on carbon in a way that satisfies the requirements of a carbon credit Standard, carbon offsets can be generated.

Forest-based project types like REDD+, Reforestation and Improved Forest Management are well established options with accepted methodologies used to create carbon credits.

Newer types of Nature-based Solutions include “blue carbon” using coastal ecosystems like mangroves, tidal marshes and/or sea grasses, as well as “soil carbon” in agricultural ecosystems.

We provide you with access to carbon credits from certified and independently audited forest-based projects from around the world

Forest-based projects fall into three general categories:

  • REDD+
  • Reforestation
  • Improved Forest Management

REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation)

Standing forest contains vast stores of carbon in the trees and soil.

That carbon is released quickly when the forest is removed (“deforestation”).  Degradation of the forest reduces the carbon stored by that ecosystem.

Both processes impact an ecosystem’s function and the services it provides to local people and its biodiversity.

REDD+ projects are located in areas where deforestation and/or forest degradation is actively occurring and is expected to severely impact the standing forest into the future.  The projects are on the deforestation frontier and act to protect the forest from being lost.

The projects are typically located in biodiversity hot-spots which under immediate threat, working with local communities made up of some of the world’s poorest people living in and around the forest.

REDD+ reduces emissions, empowers communities and supports biodiversity.

Deforestation is driven by both legal and illegal activities.

Causes of deforestation include logging for timber, clearing for pasture (e.g. cattle) or cropping (e.g. palm oil or soy bean), infrastructure (e.g. roads, powerlines, dams, urban areas etc), mining, shifting subsistence agriculture, fuelwood and charcoal production, population pressures and poverty.

Carbon offsets from REDD+ projects are created by quantifying the amount of carbon that would otherwise have been lost to the atmosphere, using established and accepted methodologies developed by VCS.  Additional accreditation of the project’s sustainability co-benefits is provided by CCB.

Accredited VCS REDD+ projects have to address criteria such as permanence, additionality, leakage and being real, measurable, conservative and verifiable.

Every REDD+ project has to set aside a risk-adjusted percentage of their verified credits into a buffer to manage the risk of a release of sequestered carbon (reversal).  The buffer pool is managed by VCS and if a reversal occurs in a project, that amount of credits can be cancelled from the buffer pool.

There are over 58 million tonnes held in the buffer (as of January 2022).

REDD+ carbon credits not only reduce emissions, they can transform local forest-based economies, improve social equity, help community and infrastructure development, protect biodiversity, maintain traditional customs and lifestyles by establishing a monetary value for keeping the standing forest as opposed to chopping it down.

Reforestation/ Afforestation

Reforestation/ Afforestation involves establishment of vegetation across a landscape that was cleared historically and has been used for another purpose (e.g. cropping).  The land can not have been cleared recently – this avoids the perverse incentive to clear forest to then replant it and claim carbon credits.

These types of forest-based projects develop a carbon sink, sequestering (extracting and holding) carbon that is already in the atmosphere.  They potentially generate other environmental benefits associated with increasing tree cover, especially if the planting is species rich, such as biodiversity enhancements, decreased soil erosion and improved micro-climates.

They have to meet the typical criteria for all quality carbon credits, addressing issues like additionality, permanence, leakage and being real, measurable, conservative and verifiable.

They also require risk management plans to avoid the loss of stored carbon as well as the allocation of credits to a buffer.  The pooling of various locations under one project helps to spread risk spatially.

Carbon offsets sold by Beyond Neutral are created by a project’s actual sequestration of carbon which has been verified as having occurred; we do not sell future sequestration based on expectations of how much plants will grow.

Improved Forest Management (IFM)

IFM involves changes to the management regimes of a forest.  It often involves the change from regular logging to protecting the existing forests, removing logging rights, suppressing illegal logging activity and managing the forest in a way that enhances its growth and health.

The same criteria need to be met as the other types of forest-based credits – the primary difference between them are the activities that are used to protect, enhance or create the carbon sink.