KEMPTVILLE, Ont. — The Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) has partnered with Bluesource Canada to develop a program to generate carbon offsets for community forests that are certified through the EOMF Forest Certification program.

The offsets will fall under an Improved Forest Management (IFM) Practices protocol.

The new partnership with Bluesource Canada, a developer of forest carbon and other greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets, supports EOMF’s vision to promote sustainable forest management practices on private forest lands across Ontario.

In the partnership, EOMF and Bluesource Canada will provide guidance to those community forests that are interested in pursuing the opportunity. They will also provide a framework for the development of forest carbon offset projects that generates economies of scale. Through the aggregation of multiple community forests, the two organizations say this framework will reduce project costs such as inventory and verification, allowing more money to be re-invested back into the forest.

Astrid Nielsen, general manager of the EOMF, describes this as “a great opportunity for those forests who have been going above and beyond in their forest management practices.”

Jamie MacKinnon, vice-president of Bluesource Canada, explains further. “Within this partnership, we are preparing community forests to take advantage of this opportunity as soon as the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change publishes the impending forest carbon protocol for the cap-and-trade market.”

The first step for a forest to develop carbon offsets through forest carbon protocols is to become certified, making the EOMF an ideal starting point for community forests interested in this opportunity. The EOMF has been promoting sustainable forest management since its inception in 1992, and is a leader in private land forest certification. It started its Certification Program in 2002 and currently holds a Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certificate (FSC® C018800) for more than 82,000 ha of private forest lands in Ontario including community forests, commercial forest owners, maple syrup producers and private woodlots.

“It will be an opportunity for forest owners to be recognized for all the good work they have done over the years. It’s an easy fit for the EOMF as it builds on our existing Certification Program and is in line with our vision of promoting sustainable management of our forest resource. In addition, this is really exciting as it provides an economic incentive to keep forests on the landscape which is a critical component to combatting climate change,” Nielsen states.

MacKinnon says Ontario’s cap-and-trade program “provides a significant opportunity to channel investment in GHG reductions back into our communities in ways that create jobs, contribute to biodiversity and ensure the sustainability of our forest ecosystems.