Afforestation offset projects sequester carbon through the conversion of land from a non-forested to forested condition. Carbon sequestration is determined using a base-year approach, where the amount of carbon sequestered is measured relative to the base-year carbon measurement or previous reporting period carbon measurement. CO2 offset allowances are awarded based on the amount of net additional carbon sequestered within the offset project boundary during each reporting period, as represented in short tons of CO2.
To ensure that CO2 offset allowances awarded for Afforestation projects represent permanent carbon sequestration, the RGGI States require a legally binding permanent conservation easement approved by the relevant state agency where the offset project is located.
The easement must require that all land within the offset project boundary be maintained in a forested state in perpetuity. In addition, the conservation easement must:
Include a requirement that the carbon density within the offset project boundary be maintained at long-term levels at or above that achieved as of the end of the CO2 offset crediting period.
Require that the land be managed in accordance with environmentally sustainable forestry practices.
Net carbon sequestered during the reporting period is also discounted by 10% prior to the award of CO2 offset allowances to account for potential project reversals of carbon sequestration, unless the project sponsor retains long-term insurance, approved by the relevant state agency where the offset project is located, that guarantees replacement of any lost sequestered carbon for which CO2 offset allowances were awarded.
To qualify for the award of CO2 offset allowances, Afforestation offset projects must:
Occur on land that has been in a non-forested state for at least 10 years preceding the commencement of the offset project.
Be managed in accordance with widely accepted environmentally sustainable forestry practices and designed to promote the restoration of native forests by using mainly native species and avoiding the introduction of invasive non-native species.
If commercial timber harvest activities are to occur, certification must be obtained, prior to any harvest activities at the site, through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Institute (SFI), American Tree Farm System (ATFS), or such other similar organizations as may be approved by the appropriate state agency where the project is located.
For more information, please consult state regulations.
Parties evaluating potential offset projects in multiple RGGI States should also consult the Model Rule, which was the basis for the development of individual state regulations. Note that the Model Rule is provided for informational purposes only, and state regulations apply.
For relevant state offset project application instructions and materials, please see Application Process.