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The Finite Carbon – Lyme Grand Lake Stream Improved Forest Management Project

In 2012, DLLT raised funds enabling the Lyme Timber Company, a private timberland investment management organization, to grant a conservation easement to the state of Maine on 22,000 acres of forestland. The easement permanently protects the property from development and ensures sustainable timber management.

In addition, by improving management practices to increase carbon stocking levels, the forest earned carbon offset credits for use in the California cap-and-trade program. From September 2013 to September 2015, the Lyme Grand Lake Stream Forest removed and sequestered an additional 599,217 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions through its improved forest management practices, which were made in accordance with guidelines specified in the California Compliance Offset Protocol for U.S. Forest Offset Projects.

The forest industry has a long history in the community. Since the early 1900s, the Lyme Grand Lake Stream Forest has served the local timber and pulp industry. Initially owned by the St. Croix Paper Company, the property was part of a nearly one million-acre ownership that stretched across the US-Canadian border. In the 1980s and 1990s, both hardwood areas and much of the mature hemlock were clear cut. In 2008, The Lyme Timber Company purchased the property with the intention of managing it more sustainably.

By incentivizing sustainable harvest and natural forest management practices that achieve denser, bigger, older and a diverse mixture of native tree species, the California Forest Protocol fosters the sequestration of additional forest carbon above and beyond the anticipated baseline, which is the carbon stocks that would be expected under typical commercial forest management for the 100-year duration of the project. The protocol provides detailed and rigorous standards for forest projects to earn offsets for the additional carbon in its reservoir, addressing the project’s eligibility, management, monitoring and calculation requirements. Eligible management activities include increasing the stocking of trees on understocked areas, increasing the overall age of the forest by increasing rotation ages, increasing forest productivity by thinning diseased and suppressed trees, and managing competing brush and short-lived forest species. Forest owners are required to protect the forest for at least 100 years.

In addition to benefits for the climate through greater carbon storage, the Lyme Grand Lake Stream Forest Project achieves significant benefits for the forest ecosystem. Natural forest management practices support wildlife conservation, biological diversity, improved water quality and habitat restoration. The improved ecosystem will benefit the flora and fauna who call Grand Lake Stream home, including the moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, bobcats, 180 species of birds, native landlocked salmon, brook trout, and smallmouth bass. Forest protection is also appreciated by members of the community and visitors who visit the forest to hike, camp, swim and participate in other recreational activities.

The sale of carbon offsets helped the Downeast Lakes Land Trust purchase the 22,000-acre property from Lyme Timber in July 2016. The acquisition was completed as part of an eight-year, $19.4 million campaign and helps fulfill a broader community-led effort to conserve 370,000 acres in the Downeast Lakes region.

Carbon offsets enabled a small, rural community land trust to conserve a large amount of land, protecting it from fragmentation and conversion to other uses. The project guarantees environmental benefits while creating a revenue stream for conservatively managed timberlands.

The Farm Cove Forest Carbon Project:

The carbon project on 19,118 acres in eastern Maine is an improved forest management project first registered with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and later listed as an Early Action project with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. The project was developed in a partnership between Downeast Lakes Land Trust and Finite Carbon.  Improved forest management projects maintain or increase forest carbon stocks above the level expected under typical commercial forest management.

This carbon project is within the original 33,708-acre Farm Cove Community Forest owned and managed by the Downeast Lakes Land Trust for wildlife habitat, public recreation, and a sustainable timber economy.  The project received an initial issuance of nearly 200,000 compliance-eligible carbon offsets from CAR, and on November 13, 2013 ARB issued these compliance offsets for the project (as part of the first issuance of forest compliance offsets by ARB).  Downeast Lakes Land Trust and Finite Carbon announced on the same date the sale of the initial offsets to California compliance buyers.

Proceeds from the sale of Farm Cove forest carbon offsets helped finance the Downeast Lakes Land Trust campaign to expand community-led forest stewardship to over 55,000 acres around the village of Grand Lake Stream, Maine, forming the Downeast Lakes Community Forest. The carbon offset project we have completed on a portion of the Farm Cove Community Forest also will provide additional long-term protection for the property and guarantee environmental benefits through maintaining increased timber stocking.

History of the Farm Cove Forest Carbon Project:

The trust began evaluating its potential to participate in the carbon market in 2009, and entered a partnership with Finite Carbon in 2010.   Finite Carbon Corporation is a forest carbon development company that partners with landowners to create and monetize carbon offsets.

On July 2, 2010, Downeast Lakes Land Trust listed the project with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) as an improved forest management project.  From fall 2010 through summer 2012, Downeast Lakes Land Trust and Finite Carbon completed a new timber inventory of the property, conducted analysis to determine the potential carbon credits available, and contracted a third-party verification of the project by the Rainforest Alliance.

In September, 2012, Downeast Lakes Land Trust and Finite Carbon registered the project with CAR as an improved forest management project under the CAR Forest Project Protocol 3.2 and received an initial issuance of nearly 200,000 compliance-eligible carbon offsets.  This was the first Improved Forest Management carbon project outside California registered with CAR.

Press Release, Sept 12, 2012: Finite Carbon and Downeast Lakes Land Trust Register the First CAR Improved Forest Management Carbon Project Outside California.

In March, 2013, the project was among the first forest carbon offset projects listed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) as an “Early Action” project for the ARB greenhouse gas emissions trading program.  Early action project listing required dual third-party verification, which was achieved for the Farm Cove project with a second verification by Environmental Services, Inc.

Press Release, March 13, 2013: Finite Carbon and Downeast Lakes Land Trust Project Among First Forest Carbon Offset Projects Listed by California Air Resources Board.

On November 13, 2013 the California Air Resources Board (ARB) issued nearly 200,000 offset credits for the Farm Cove project.  This was in the first issuance of compliance forestry offsets for the California emissions trading program.  Downeast Lakes Land Trust and Finite Carbon announced the issuance, and that the initial offset credits have been sold to California compliance buyers, in transactions worth over 2 million dollars.

Press Release, November 13, 2013: Finite Carbon and Downeast Lakes Land Trust Receive Nation’s First California Compliance Forest Carbon Offsets

Media Coverage:

SELLING CARBON OFFSETS: A Potential Source of Funding For Forest Conservation.  Spring, 2014, in Saving Land.

Landowners cash in on timber they don’t cut.  February 16, 2014 in Maine Sunday Telegram.

California Issues First Carbon Offset Credits Via Forest Conservation Under Cap-And-Trade Program.  November 14, 2013 in The Huffington Post.

California issues first forestry offset credits for CO2 market.  November 13, 2013 in Reuters.

Carbon offsets: A new forest ‘product’?  In Forests for Maine’s Future.  September, 2013.

Creating Carbon Credit.  In Northern Woodlands.  Spring 2013.

Maine Land Trust Registers First California CAR Carbon Project  in The Forestry Source, the magazine of The Society of American Foresters, November 2012.

Additional Information:

What is a “carbon offset”?

A carbon offset, sometimes referred to as a carbon credit, is a generic term used to assign a value to a reduction or offset of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.  Carbon offsets and carbon markets are a component of attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.  Carbon offsets can be used in regulatory or voluntary markets.

About the Downeast Lakes Land Trust

Downeast Lakes Land Trust is a community-based land trust located in Grand Lake Stream, Maine. The Trust protects lakeshores, improves fish and wildlife habitats, provides public recreation opportunities, offers educational programs, and supports jobs in the forest and on the water. Dedicated to the Downeast economy and environment, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and its partners have conserved 370,000 acres of forests and wetlands since 2001. For more information, see www.downeastlakes.org.

About Finite Carbon

Finite Carbon is America’s leading developer of forest carbon offsets.Combining unparalleled project development experience with extensive carbon market knowledge, Finite Carbon’s in-house team of forest carbon experts offers a single-source solution for creating and monetizing carbon offsets and the most comprehensive forest carbon project development and commercialization service in the US.  The company is headquartered in Wayne, PA, and has offices in San Francisco, CA, Cherry Creek, NY, Murfreesboro, TN, and Tallahassee, FL.  For more information, please visit www.finitecarbon.com.

About the Climate Action Reserve

The Climate Action Reserve is a carbon offset registry for the North American carbon market.  It is designed to encourage action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by ensuring the environmental integrity and financial benefit of emissions reduction projects.  The Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies, issues carbon offsets generated from such projects and tracks the transaction of offsets over time in a transparent, publicly-accessible system.  For more information, see www.climateactionreserve.org.

About the California Air Resources Board Cap and Trade Program:

California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program is administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB).  The program is a central element of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and covers major sources of GHG emissions in the State such as refineries, power plants, industrial facilities, and transportation fuels.  The regulation includes an enforceable GHG cap that will decline over time.  ARB will distribute allowances, which are tradable permits, equal to the emission allowed under the cap.  CAR forest offset projects are one of four offset types allowed as “early action” projects under the ARB greenhouse gas emissions trading program that launched on January 1, 2013. Under the ARB program, regulated emitters may use approved offset projects to meet up to eight percent of their emissions cap.  For more information, see http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/capandtrade.htm.