Release 07-47
October 25, 2007

    Leo Kay
Stanley Young
(916) 322-2990

Air Resources Board adopts forestry protocols

Provides foundation for using forestlands to measure greenhouse gas reductions

SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board today adopted a set of accepted methods of measuring the amount of carbon stored in a forest, making it possible to use forest projects in California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming.

"Today's action by the board recognizes the important role California's forestlands will play in storing carbon and achieving the greenhouse gas reductions required by AB32," said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the Air Resources Board. "Adopting these protocols also puts California's forests front and center within the growing global carbon market. Investment in this market will lead to forestry management projects that both store carbon and benefit California's wildlife and watersheds."

The Board also called for ARB staff to work with stakeholders to fast-track the development of additional types of protocols for forest projects including industrial forestlands, projects on public lands (such as state parks) and for urban forestry programs. This will provide additional methods of measuring carbon storage that will be consistent with the protocol standards adopted by the Board.

Adoption of the forestry protocols was one of a suite of 44 Early Actions the Board acted on. These Early Actions are a mix of regulatory and voluntary greenhouse gas strategies, to be implemented during the 2007 - 2012 timeframe under AB32, California's groundbreaking law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Under these protocols, California's forests could remove approximately 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents by 2020. California will have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 174 million metric tons per year to reach the limits set by AB32.

Forestry is the only sector of the economy that actively removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, a process known as "forest carbon sequestration." This occurs when trees absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, storing the carbon as wood. Forests also give off carbon dioxide, from decomposing leaf matter on the forest floor for example.

The protocols adopted by the Board today set forth scientifically rigorous approaches to accurately measure the amount of net carbon captured in a forest. The protocols were developed by the California Climate Action Registry over the past four years through a public process and expert review and were approved by the Board of Forestry in 2004.

Since the protocols set international criteria and can be verified by an accredited third-party, pilot projects developed in Humboldt and Mendocino counties are already being used by private individuals and companies to offset carbon emissions produced elsewhere.

For more information on forestry protocols for AB 32 please visit ARB website.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.