The New FCP: Forging the Global Forest Carbon Community

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By Maria Bendana
The Forest Carbon Portal tracks nearly 100 forest carbon projects around the world and aggregates news and information from Ecosystem Marketplace and scores of other sites. In the year since EM launched it, the Portal has become one of a handful of go-to sites for people looking to develop, invest in, or buy credits from forest carbon projects around the world.
 
As of last week, it’s even more powerful – with new functions designed to help weave the world’s disparate forest carbon participants into a cohesive global community.
 
Users can, for example, create profiles and join a community, a Facebook of sorts for forest carbon professionals where they can search for and privately message each other. In addition, members of the community can comment on articles and upload their own projects, resources, events and job opportunities in a Jobs Board.
 
Carbon Connections
 
While it has been a pleasure to answer your questions, now you can pose them to a greater audience or join and start discussions in ‘Carbon Connections’, a discussion forum for those interested in forest/terrestrial carbon issues.
 
Coming soon, Carbon Connections will also function as a news bulletin in which you can post announcements and subscribe to get daily emails of what topics and announcements have been posted (similar to the Climate L Forum, which is our own favorite source).
 
User Categories
 
Users are divided into three different categories according to their user permissions and rights. The hierarchy of permissions and rights according to users’ roles is the following:
 
a) Members: Authenticated users that have joined the community (or created an account) will have a profile in the member directory, can privately message other members, comment on articles, upload resources, events and job opportunities and participate in ‘Carbon Connections’.
b) Project Managers: In addition to the permissions and rights of other authenticated members, these users have indicated they have information about ‘operational or pipeline’ projects and would like to upload projects onto the Project Inventory. Operational projects are those that have sold credits and/or been validated to a third party standard. Pipeline projects are all other projects.
c) Writers: For trusted users who have shown leadership in this forest carbon ‘community’ we will expand their role to be able to create and edit their own articles. Please express your interest in becoming a writer for the Forest Carbon Portal community at general@forestcarbonportal.com.
 
Origins
 
The Forest Carbon Portal is a specialized satellite site of Ecosystem Marketplace, the leading source of markets and payments for ecosystem services (PES). EM in turn was spawned at a Katoomba Group meeting in Switzerland in 2003 when the PES professionals gathered there by Forest Trends realized the need to bring greater transparency and comprehensive information in the nascent field of environmental service markets with the goals of achieving meaningful conservation outcomes and benefits to local communities.
 
Five years later, in December 2008, Forest Trends released the Portal under the purview of EM to provide a central repository of information for forest carbon professionals (a truly dedicated group that even gathers after working hours in Washington, DC, to play Forest Carbon Trivia hosted by the Portal and yours truly).
 
Services
 
The Portal started with a “toolbox” of resources ranging from methodologies to policy briefs, market analysis, a calendar of events, and daily forest carbon news. By February, 2009, we had begun to categorize and summarize news and articles to provide a digestible format for our users to keep up to date with what was happening monthly in the forest carbon world. As methodologies started being developed, we experimented with a “Methodology Watch”. Currently we are experimenting with bringing you podcast interviews about interesting projects, market participants and other players in the field.
 
Forest Carbon Project Inventory and Map
 
From the start, we maintained an inventory of about a dozen forest carbon projects around the world, and the Portal also featured a very cool interactive Google map pinpointing the location of these forest carbon projects. Users could search for projects by country, as well as by a variety of criteria such as project type, standard, registry and size. Projects were described in consistent 'nutrition labels'.
 
By August 2009 the Forest Carbon Project Inventory had grown to over 100 projects worldwide. This inventory provided the backbone for and culminated into the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2009 report.
 
Join the Community
 
In May, we initiated a “Request for Proposals” for a web development firm to develop a new, open source, user generated site. We picked Forum One, a local Washington, DC firm, and they helped us refine our goals with the site, our target audience and the functionality we needed to put in place to meet those objectives. It has been a nine-month long process to overhaul the site. We hope the new portal will facilitate greater discussion and connectivity among forest carbon practitioners worldwide.
 
Getting Started
 
If you are a first time user and you have a resource, an event, a project or a job opportunity you would like to post or if you want to participate in Carbon Connections, please click here for a 2-page detailed instructions guide located on the homepage and the ‘Library and Tools’ page. In order to be able to perform the aforementioned actions and to help seed the community, users need to join the community by creating profiles. It takes less than two minutes to do this. Users who do not join will still be able to view content but will not have the ability to manipulate it or interact with other members.
 
We hope you join the community and find it useful. 
 
And if you see anything that needs improvement, that’s what “Carbon Connections” is for.