The first step in registering your land through the Forest Project Protocol is to find out what will be the activity on your forestland; Conservation-based Forest Management, Reforestation, or Conservation. The LaTour Project follows the Reforestation forest activity. LaTour Demonstration State Forest consists of 9,033 total acres, about 300 of which are burned-over ponderosa and mixed conifer. In the 300 acres we are implementing a reforestation project with native species. Under the Reforestation project activity, more carbon will be sequestered in a planted forest then the current brush. The project will be within the 300 acres while the complete forest will be assessed for leakage.
The next step is to determine project boundaries and create an ownership summary. LaTour Demonstration State Forest is located within the State of California, which is required for the FPP. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) owns all of LaTour and its trees, but a ownership summary must be included. The ownership summary should include:
- Owner(s) of project's commercial/non-commercial trees; if more than one owner, please indicate and identify proportionate share (equity share) of ownership.
- If different from number 1, please state owner(s) of fee title (i.e. title of the land) underlying project's trees and any proportional shares if more than one owner.
- Please list any other external programs that will be (or are) registering the project's GHG reductions and respective ownership(s).
- If all or part of the GHG reductions resulting from the project have been, or will be, sold or transferred to another party, identity the transferee and the amount transferred (or to be transferred).
LaTour's ownership summary:
- State of California, CDF 100% ownership, Fee Title
Step three requires that the project meet all the eligibility criteria, and so far LaTour has, the next step is a conservation easement. LaTour is owned and managed by CDF, a state entity that is unable to have a perpetual conservation easement. Because of this requirement CDF is unable to become certified with the FPP, but we will continue as though it has. The next step would be to contact a certifier. Approved certifiers and their contact information are listed on the Registry's website.
At the project level a forest entity is required to secure their project within a perpetual conservation easement and permanently dedicate the land to forest use.
All forest projects are required to promote and maintain forest types that are native to the project area. In addition, forest management projects must use natural forest management. On LaTour, we are using a Reforestation activity of planting ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and white fir (Abies concolor), native species to the area.
LaTour also practices natural forest management. The Registry requires that forest practices must be based on natural forest management within the project area. These management practices must promote and maintain native forests that are comprised of multiple ages and mixed native species in the forest overstory and understory.
Step four has two options for picking an initiation date. Before 2008 you are able to pick a historic initiation date starting from, but not before, 1990. After 2008 one must start with the current date. A major restriction is that baseline characterizations must account for state regulatory changes in 1993 and 1999 pursuant to the California Z'berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973, which were years that changes in regulations had significant management impacts on forest carbon stocks.
The LaTour project will use January 1, 2005 as the starting point. This is convenient for us because we have our forest-wide planning initiating on this date.
After you have selected your initiation date you must apply it to your forest activity to find your project baseline. The three options are Conservation-based Forest Management, Reforestation, or Conservation, and all have different baseline characterizations.
Baseline minimum for Conservation-based Forest Management (5a)
The qualitative characterization of the baseline for this project type must be based on the following:
- The California Z'berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 (FPA) and the corresponding Maximum Sustained Production "Option C rules" of the Forest Practice Rules (FPR) of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, which include district, sub-district, and special treatment area rules;
- Any other applicable special county-level mandatory forest management laws that would apply to the baseline management practices at the county level;
- At the time of baseline initiation, mandatory land use statutes or regulations must not require the conservation-based forest management to be implemented as the project activity.
For more information and examples see the Forest Project Protocol, page 19.
Baseline minimum for Reforestation (5b)
LaTour follows the Reforestation forest activity. In order to follow the reforestation project, our baseline qualitative characterizations were based on the following:
- The project area has been out of forest cover (less than 10% tree canopy cover) for a minimum of ten years at the time of project initiation.
- The project area was historically under forest cover.
- No mandatory statutes or regulations require reforestation of the project area at the time of baseline initiation.
- Describe the practices that would continue in the project area over time, based on the previous activities that have kept the area out of forest cover.
For more information and examples see the Forest Project Protocol, page 21.
Baseline minimum for Forest Conservation (5c)
If the project baseline is characterized by land use conversion trends, the following information must be the basis for the baseline characterization:
- The rate of conversion must be based on the land use conversion trend Table F in Annex A, which is organized on a county basis. (See the Forest Project Protocol, page 113)
- It must be demonstrated that no mandatory statutes or regulations requiring protection from conversion exist at the time the baseline is initiated.
- The type of conversion must be identified, and it must be demonstrated that the threatened conversion is permitted by local county zoning laws.
For more information and examples see the Forest Project Protocol, page 22.
Though all forest activities have different ways of calculating baseline minimums, all projects must demonstrate that the forest activity is additional to, or exceeds your project baseline characterization. The purpose of this requirement is to facilitate project activities that create benefits for the climate that are quantifiable (i.e., greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions). The project's additionality assessment has two phases:
- It will be assessed initially when your project is first reported to the Registry and
- It will be assessed throughout the life of the project in the monitoring process (i.e. the certifier will assess whether you are maintaining the additional project activity).
Each forest activity has different ways of calculating additionality.
Conservation-based Forest Management:
A forest management project must demonstrate that it is additional by showing that the planned project activities exceed the applicable mandatory forest management laws used to characterize the project baseline. At project initiation, the plan to undertake project activities that exceed the identified laws and regulations in the baseline would be deemed additional. After project initiation, the third party certifier's monitoring of the project would confirm that the additional project activities were being implemented and maintained.
For more information and examples see the Forest Project Protocol, page 25.
After characterizing the baseline, a project developer undertaking a reforestation project must prove that its project activity, reforesting, would be additional. This would be done by demonstrating that the project area had been out of forest cover for at least ten years and that governing land use statutes and regulations do not require the project area to be reforested. A description of the project's additional activities (i.e. restoration and maintenance of native forest cover) that will be implemented over time must be included in the Project Summary worksheet in Annex C.
For more information and examples see the Forest Project Protocol, –Annex C
A forest conservation project demonstrates its additionality initially by showing that, but for its act of protecting the project area, the project area would have been converted to a nonforest use. This requirement should be satisfied in the baseline characterization process. Upon demonstrating these requirements for the baseline characterization, the proposed project activity to conserve this project area would be considered additional. A description of the project's activities (i.e., conservation) that will be implemented over time must be included in the Project Summary worksheet in Annex C.
For more information and examples see the Forest Project Protocol, page 28.
Assess Activity Shifting Leakage
As a project developer, you must demonstrate that you have addressed activity-shifting leakage for your forest project pursuant to the guidance in this section. In general, leakage may occur when a project activity changes the availability or quantity of a product or service and as a result, causes changes in GHG emissions that are independent of the project's intended GHG impacts. This leakage category can be subdivided into two types of leakage, activity-shifting leakage and market leakage.
At project initiation and throughout the life of your project, you are required to account for any activity-shifting leakage that may occur within your entity boundaries (i.e., on-site) and to assess this type of leakage outside of your entity boundaries (off-site). Any activity shifting leakage that occurs on-site must be quantified and deducted from any calculations of GHG reductions.
Market leakage occurs when the project activity affects an established market for goods, thus causing substitution or replacement elsewhere and causing GHG emissions that, in effect, offset or mitigate the project's GHG reductions. The assessment and quantification of market leakage, while strongly encouraged, is currently optional.
There are other effects that can occur either upstream or downstream of your project that may mitigate or improve the GHG benefits of your project. These upstream and downstream effects are directly linked to the project activity, but are separate from your project's intended GHG reduction. They may occur on-site or off-site. While you are not required to quantify these effects, you are required to identify the types or categories of nonbiological upstream and downstream effects that are affiliated with your project.
Leakage related reporting responsibilities are shown on the flowing graph:
|Market||Strongly encouraged||Strongly Encouraged|
|Required to identify non-biological categories on and off-site||Encouraged (on-site effects quantified at entity level)|
Leakage is assessed during project baseline initiation, additionality and throughout the project. For more information see page 28 and Section III of the Forest Project Protocol. For a complete worksheet see Annex A and D, on pages 84 and 124 of the Forest Project Protocol.
Annexes A and D for LaTour.
Optional project pre-screening process
Project developers may submit a preliminary project eligibility sheet to the Registry for prescreening. The pre-screening process is designed to help ensure that proposed forest projects will meet the Registry's eligibility criteria before the project is implemented and reported. It is based on the project eligibility criteria outlined in the previous subsections. The Forest Project Protocol contains a Pre-screening Worksheet in Annex B on page 116.
When you have completed the pre-screening worksheet, you must submit the worksheet to the Registry for pre-screening. The Registry's forest team will review your project information and issue a statement of project eligibility risk (low, medium, or high). Low risk indicates that the project will very likely meet the Registry's reporting requirements. Medium risk indicates that the project will probably meet the Registry's reporting requirements. High risk indicates that the project will likely not meet the Registry's reporting requirements. This statement will encourage the project developer to make modifications to the project accordingly.
Once you receive your pre-screening statement that the risk is low or medium, you may implement your project.
Develop Inventory Methodology
As your initial inventory step, you must develop and describe a methodology to sample for biomass or volume in the required carbon pools. Sampling methodologies for any optional carbon pools, where a determination of the biomass or volume is derived from sampling, is also required for those pools you wish to include in your project. For more information on required sampling by carbon pool, see Minimum Required Sampling Criteria for Estimated Pools on page 38 of the Forest Project Protocols.
Your sampling methodology and measurement standards should be consistent throughout the time you report to the Registry. All sampling methodologies and measurement standards must be statistically sound and reviewed by certifiers. The methodologies utilized shall be documented and made available for certification and public review.
For more detailed information on developing and conducting forest inventories see Part III of the Forest Project Protocols on page 33.
In step 9 you must estimate some carbon pools while others are optional. Required pools are; carbon in trees, standing dead wood, and lying dead wood. Optional pools of carbon can be found in wood products, shrubs and herbaceous understory, litter and duff, and soil. All of which can be estimated from your inventory sample plots.
The Registry prefers all estimates of reported carbon pools, required or not, to have a high level of statistical confidence. Standards have been developed by the Registry for these pools. The standards are designed to reward project developers with stocks for carbon tons provided that they meet rigorous statistical protocols and confidence levels established by the Registry. The Registry gives biomass deductions based on level of confidence in the combined required pools derived from field sampling estimate.
To learn more, see page 52 of the Forest Project Protocol.
Summarizing Carbon Pools
The Registry uses and permits the use of certain empirical-based models to estimate the carbon stocks of selected carbon pools within an entity's geographical area. They may also be used to forecast gains and/or losses in carbon stocks in your project forest area over time. These forecasts are necessary to estimate and report your project's baseline, which is based on your initial complete carbon inventory and project baseline characterization. While you are required to report the carbon from your project activity annually, the use of models may be used to forecast carbon stocks that would result from your project activity over time.
These models must either be pre-approved by the Registry or meet certain criteria to be eligible for use in the Registry. Models that have been accepted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) through the approval of a long-term management plan are automatically considered pre-approved by the Registry. Such models include, but are not limited to:
- CACTOS: California Conifer Timber Output Simulator
- CRYPTOS: California Conifer Timber Output Simulator
- FVS: Forest Vegetation Simulator
- SPS: Stand Projection System
- VFP: Visual Forester Professional
- FREIGHTS: Forest Resource Inventory, Growth, and Harvest Tracking System
- CRYPTOS Emulator
Models that have not been pre-approved by the Registry may also be used, but entities must demonstrate to the Certifier that such models meet the following criteria:
- They have been peer reviewed in a process that: 1) primarily involved reviewers with necessary technical expertise (e.g. modeling specialists and relevant fields of biology, forestry, ecology etc.) and 2) was open and rigorous
- They must be parameterized for the specific conditions of the project and/or entity land area
- Their use has been limited to the scope for which the model was developed and evaluated
- They must be clearly documented to include the scope of the model, assumptions, known limitations, embedded hypotheses, assessment ofuncertainties and sources for equations, data sets, factors or parameters, etc.
- They undergo a sensitivity analysis to assess model behavior for the range of parameters for which the model is applied
- They are periodically reviewed
The use of simulation models is necessary for quantifying the carbon stocks in your project's baseline and those that are expected to result from your project activity over time. This information should be incorporated into the simulation models so that you can create your project baseline as a projection of carbon stocks over time to complement the direct sampling that is required in the monitoring process. A similar process should be executed to project carbon stocks over time for the project activity.
Your project baseline and activity carbon stocks should be portrayed in a graph depicting time on the x axis and carbon tons on the y-axis. Your project baseline and activity should have a common starting point (i.e., carbon stock total) at project initiation. The graph should be supported with written characterizations that explain any changes in carbon stocks in the project baseline and project activity from one year to the next.
For more information see Sum Carbon Pools, page 54 of the Forest Project Protocols.
Report to Registry on an Annual Basis
The projections from simulation models also support your annual reporting results. The Registry requires you to report your entity's forest carbon stocks and calculate any CO2 emissions on an annual basis. If you are not conducting direct sampling of all of your plots on an annual basis, you may use your reported baseline or simulated projections to report your annual carbon stocks, so long as it is supported by your annual monitoring reports and any sampling that your entity has conducted for that year.
Steps to Calculate GHG reductions and biological emissions
Calculate your project's carbon stocks (PC) by subtracting the project's baseline carbon (BC) reported for that year from the project's activity carbon (AC) for the same year. Over time, your project's PC should be a positive number to reflect that your project is accruing carbon stocks that can be calculated as GHG reductions.
AC – BC = PC
The difference in project carbon stocks between the current and previous reporting year will determine if your project has created any emissions (E) or GHG reductions (R) in that reporting year. If the difference is a positive number, your project has produced GHG reductions over the past year. If the difference is a negative number, your project has produced emissions in the past year.
PC2 – PC1 = E or R
where PC1 = PC from previous year and PC2 = PC from current year.
If activity-shifting leakage on-site has occurred, use the following formula to calculate your annual emissions reductions or emissions:
PC2 – PC1 - AL = E or R
where AL = on-site activity-shifting leakage
Over time you must report to the Registry for updates/changes to the project. Any inaccurate growth assumptions or projections of carbon stocks in the entity must be reported. The project inventory must be updated every 10 years; sampling activities are likely to be an ongoing activity for most forest landowners. Natural disturbances such as fires, disease, and pests are examples of agents that reduce forest carbon stocks. While not the result of activity-shifting leakage, the occurrence of such instances may play a role in reducing actual carbon stocks below predicted carbon stocks and must be accounted for. If an entity baseline is not established an overall management plan must be reported to the Registry.
As a last step, your reported annual change in carbon tons, whether they are emissions or reductions, should be expressed as tons of CO�.
On an annual basis, a project monitoring report must be submitted to the Registry. The purpose of this report is to report your estimated annual carbon stocks, attest that you are carrying out the intended project activities, and confirm that your project's carbon stocks are increasing or decreasing in accordance with initial projections. Specifically, your annual monitoring report must include the following:
- Carbon stock estimate: Provide estimate of total carbon stocks in project area for the year being reported, including anticipated or unanticipated changes in the stocks due to disturbances.
- Project compliance: You are required to submit an annual written assurance that the project activities are being carried out, as described in the project description and the Project Protocol is being followed.
- Disturbances: The written report should list any disturbances (tree removals, natural significant disturbances etc.) that have occurred, the date of the disturbance(s), the extent of the disturbance, including whether it is a natural significant disturbance, and whether it was originally anticipated as part of the project activity.
- Leakage: The report should include a declaration of whether any on-site activity-shifting leakage has occurred, a description of the type and scope of analysis that was performed to assess this leakage, as well as the quantification of any activity-shifting leakage that has occurred on-site. A good faith assessment of any off-site activity-shifting leakage must also be included (though not quantified).
Monitoring Plan Worksheets on annual monitoring and direct sampling can be found in the Forest Project Protocols, starting on page 125. LaTour (see Annex D).
Reporting and Certifying your Project
You must certify your forest project results regularly and submit your certified results to the Registry. Certification is mandatory for all required greenhouse gas (GHG) emission data (including forest carbon stocks) reported to the Registry. In addition to certifying your forest project every five years, you must also certify your entity level carbon stocks and biological emissions every five years. Your non-biological GHG emissions must be certified annually. Please refer to the General Reporting Protocol for information on certifying your non-biological GHG emissions.
Completing the Reporting Process
If you have not done so already, you should hire an approved certifier. Remember that your certifier must be approved as a "forest sector certifier." You can enter into a multiple year contract with a certifier for up to 6 years, as stipulated in the General Reporting Protocol. However, given the structure of the certification cycle for biological emissions, the Registry strongly recommends entering into a 5-year contract with your certifier. The State of California and the Registry will "approve" certifiers that are qualified to review your project on an annual basis. Approved certifiers and their contact information are listed on the California Climate Action Registry's website.
You are now ready to complete the Registry's reporting process. At this point you should have:
- Reported your forest project for the reporting year into CARROT
- Successfully completed the forest project certification activities
- Obtained Certification Logs, Certification Report, and Certification Opinions for your biological and non-biological inventories as well as for your forest project
- Obtained Confirmation from your certifier that they have completed your certification form in CARROT
You must do two final things to complete the annual reporting process:
- Submit your GHG data for this reporting year to the Registry via the CARROT
- Mail a hard copy of your Certification Log(s), Certification Report, Monitoring Report and Certification Opinions to the Registry.
Once the Registry receives your submission and documentation, it will review your annual report. Upon acceptance of your annual report, the Registry will send you an email confirmation and mail you a certification certificate.