Building Forest Carbon Projects That Work

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By Jacob Olander

Successful forest carbon projects must meet rigorous requirements for analyzing and documenting carbon benefits as well as an array of legal, business, and community relations issues – not to mention the challenging work of saving or planting trees to create carbon benefits.  This complexity is a major obstacle to their being understood by the private sector, indigenous groups, civil society organizations and government agencies alike.

To overcome that obstacle, three environmental non-profits have published the first edition of Building Forest Carbon Projects: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Produced by Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace), EcoDecision, and the Katoomba Group with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the BioCarbon Fund, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), this first edition provides a streamlined summary of the key steps in project development aiming to provide high-level initial guidance to project developers.  It’s part of a larger compendium to be launched in mid-2011, which will also provide additional in-depth guidance on key thematic issues. An appendix to this document provides overview summaries of forthcoming thematic chapters which will be referenced throughout the text.

This version is also being released for the purpose of gathering feedback from experts, project developers and potential users, and any suggestions to improve this document can be sent to Jacob Olander ( or Johannes Ebeling (


Only the Beginning

The project’s aim is to provide streamlined guidance to project proponents and developers to help navigate key challenges to developing marketable emission reductions under what are currently the most widely utilized carbon standards: the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and, as co-certification, the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards .

A considerable amount of guidance information is already available for forest carbon project developers, and this guide aims to complement rather than replace these, referring project proponents to existing detailed tools and resources for specific steps of the project development process. This guide also recommends where to seek specialized guidance and support.