Vegetation Based Projects
Vegetation based projects fall into two general categories – re-establishment of vegetation across a landscape cleared prior to 1990 and avoidance of the loss of biomass from a landscape.
Reforestation/ Afforestation/ Improved Forest Management
Unlike renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, these vegetation projects do not avoid the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; instead, they act as a carbon sink, sequestering (extracting and holding) carbon already in the atmosphere. For this reason, the crediting scheme will typically require an equivalent amount of carbon to that which is credited to be held out of the atmosphere for periods of 70 to 100 years or longer.
They also typically require risk management plans to avoid the loss of stored carbon, the setting aside of some of the total carbon sequestered by the project in a buffer as a risk management strategy and often encourage the pooling of various project locations to spread risk spatially.
Carbon offsets are created by the project’s actual sequestration of carbon which has occurred since 1990 or the last crediting period; they are not issued for sequestration which will occur into the future as the plants grow.
Avoided Deforestation/ REDD
Avoided deforestation and REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) projects are located where deforestation is occurring. “Deforestation” occurs for a range of purposes including timber, agriculture, palm oil plantations, pasture and infrastructure (roads, urban areas etc). “Degradation” is where forest biomass is reduced in a way impacting on ecosystem functions.
Carbon offsets are created by avoiding/reducing emissions due to forest clearing or degradation.
Accredited projects meet the typical criteria such as additionality, permanence, being measurable and verifiable as well as utilising risk management practices such as buffers and pooling to manage the risk of loss of credited carbon.
Purchasing recognised credits from these projects reduces emissions while providing funds for social equity, community and infrastructure development, protecting biodiversity, enabling maintenance of traditional customs and lifestyles, and establishing a monetary value for the standing forest.
Under Australia’s NCOS the following advice is given under Eligible Offset Units (p.6): “Where credits are issued under for reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) projects in developing countries, they must apply methodologies approved under [NCOS]. Project proponents wishing to have a methodology approved should submit it to the [relevant Australian Department] for consideration.”