Canadian carbon offset projects related to forestry generally take one of two forms: either afforestation (adding forest, the opposite of deforestation) or “improved forest management.”
A successful afforestation project has been running in Ontario for several years now. The Ontario Biodiversity Afforestation Project is a forest carbon project that converts historically farmed but currently fallow land in Northeastern Ontario back to native, boreal or Great Lakes St. Lawrence forest conditions. The project is operated by Forest Carbon Alliance Inc. (FCAI), a joint venture between Carbonzero and First Resource Management Group Inc.
Those working in the Ontario forest sector may know First Resource Management Group Inc. as a forest management company. It manages more than 60,000 square kilometres of forest for tenure holders.
The Ontario Biodiversity Afforestation Project (OBAP) is the largest afforestation project of its kind in Ontario. It was developed for the sole purpose of sequestering greenhouse gas emissions and the creation of carbon offsets.
The carbon offsets are sold through voluntary carbon markets, rather than through the regulated cap and trade program that Ontario is currently developing.
Phil Green, CEO of First Resource Management Group, explains that carbon offsets sold through the voluntary market are often purchased by corporations or individuals looking to lighten their carbon footprint.
With more than 402,000 trees planted, the OBAP will sequester 77,000 tonnes of carbon throughout its lifetime. About 90 per cent of its offset credits have been sold. Green says there is “quite a bit of interest” in either expanding the OBAP or starting a new forestry carbon project.
Because landowners in Ontario have no legal obligation to re-establish their lands as forests, the project activities go above and beyond the “business as usual case” for both the landowner and project proponents, and thus can qualify as carbon offsets.
In the case of “improved forest management” carbon projects, it must be shown that the forest is being managed in a way that increases carbon sequestration. This might include silviculture practices, species selection and harvesting practices, and would apply to private, forested land.
This article first appeared in the Winter #2, 2017, edition of The Working Forest.