King County is the nation’s first local government to offer a certified carbon credit program that protects local forests

Source: Chad Lewis, KingCounty.gov, May 9

The county’s new Forest Carbon Program offers local companies the opportunity to offset a portion of their carbon emissions within King County where their employees and their families can explore and enjoy the protected forests in both urban and rural communities.

“We are making it possible for local companies to help us protect forests, confront climate change, and promote healthy habitat right here where their employees live, work, and play,” said Executive Constantine. “Our first-of-its-kind carbon credit program has the potential to be a national model for public-private partnerships that improve the quality of life for people and wildlife in their own backyards.”

The temperate forests in the Pacific Northwest are among the best in the world at storing carbon because many native tree species have long, productive lifespans. The same factors that make Pacific Northwest forests ideal for timber production also make them highly effective at storing carbon. But until now, very few carbon credits were available that protect local forests.

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How King County’s Forest Carbon Program Works

  1. Start 2015
  2. King County begins developing Forest Carbon Program
  3. King County purchases forested properties, preventing trees from being cut.
  4. Carbon stays in the trees and the trees continue to absorb CO2.
  5. The protected forests provide climate benefits and improved water quality, wildlife habitat, and greenspaces for communities.
  6. The projects are reviewed and verified by City Forest Credits (CFC) for urban sites and Verified Caron Standards (VCS) for rural sites.
  7. Carbon credits were issued to King County by CFC in 2018 and are expected to be issued by VCS in Fall 2019.
  8. Companies take action to reduce carbon emissions. Local companies can also purchase carbon credits from King County to offset some emissions.
  9. King County will invest the revenue in protecting more forests.

King County acquires high-value forests that are at risk of development and then offers buyers the opportunity to purchase carbon credits generated by keeping carbon in the forests. King County will then invest the revenue generated by the program to protect more forests and offer credits to additional buyers.

In the first five years of the program, the urban and rural components of King County’s Forest Carbon Program will store at least 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide that otherwise would have been emitted into the atmosphere.

Forests protected and managed under the program’s guidelines also will produce other benefits, such as cleaner air and water, healthier habitats for salmon and wildlife, and recreational opportunities.

Microsoft is the first local company committed to purchasing the county’s rural carbon credits, which will be formally available in late 2019. Microsoft has committed to purchasing all of the credits from the rural program in its first year to offset carbon emissions from its operations.

Kirkland-based Fishermen’s Finest is the first local company to purchase urban carbon credits from King County from a recently protected forest near Sammamish. They are a home-grown fishing company with operations in the North Pacific and Bering Sea. The company is pushing the Alaska fishing industry to consider climate change and sustainability in fleet operations.

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