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State’s largest native tribe registers California’s first Carbon Offset Project

POSTED February 14, 2014 7:15 p.m.

Setting a major milestone in California’s cap-and-trade program, the state’s first forest carbon offset project under the California Compliance Offset Protocol developed for US Forest Projects has been registered.

Verified by SCS Global Services, the Yurok Tribe and Forest Carbon Partners improved forest management project avoided more than 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from 2012 to 2013, marking the first forestry offset credits from a native compliance project.

“The Yurok Tribe’s involvement in the first compliance-grade carbon offset project shows leadership to other land managers across the state,” said Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, executive vice president at SCS Global Services. “The tandem economic and ecological benefits demonstrate that these projects can help communities on a local level while combating climate change on a global level.”

Encompassing 7,660 acres of Douglas-Fir and mixed hardwood forest in the Klamath Mountains of Northern California, the Yurok’s Improved Forest Management project has been selling carbon offsets in the California Cap-and-Trade system – a market based regulation that is designed to reduce greenhouse gases from multiple sources. By registering the project, the Yurok Tribe has made a legal commitment to maintain current forest carbon stocks, while sustainably managing the forest.

As a significant revenue source for the Yurok Tribe, the project will protect the forest for future generations while supporting the tribe’s continued management of its ancestral homeland. Being managed for timber production since California’s Gold Rush, the region will continue to place an emphasis on conservation while participating in California’s carbon market. The project will additionally help reduce runoff that negatively impacts salmon populations.

“We have lost most of our old trees due to historical logging practices and whole ecosystems are barely functioning as a result,” said Thomas O’Rourke, Sr. chairman on the Yurok Tribe. “This forest carbon project enables the Tribe to help transition these 7,660 acres back into a tribally managed natural forest system where wildlife and cultural resources like tanoak acorns, huckleberry, and hundreds of medicinal plants will thrive.”

Manager of Carbon Investments and Policy at New Forests, LLC., Brian Shillinglaw says that with the successful registration of the Yurok Project, the state is demonstrating that rigorous compliance offset protocol can deliver financial and environmental benefits to forest landowners across the nation. Although the project was the first to be registered, six other forest carbon projects are currently under development.

Under the California Cap-and-Trade system, companies can meet up to eight percent of their mandated greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations through purchasing compliance offsets. Such projects must be evaluated by an accredited, third-party verification body, such as SCS Global Services – an organization providing environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing and standards development for nearly three decades.  

The Yurok Tribe is California’s largest tribe, with its reservation centered near the Klamath River. As a natural resource-based tribe, the Yurok Tribe remains on the cutting edge of natural resource management while continuing to be a leader in tribal forest carbon offset projects under the statewide cap-and-trade system.

State’s largest native tribe registers California’s first Carbon Offset Project

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