About the carbon market

Forest Carbon Works uses the carbon market as a way to help private forest landowners practice long-term forest conservation, and get paid for it! Forest Carbon Works rewards its Members for the growth and sustainable maintenance of their forests. Learn how carbon credits work and why reducing emissions has financial value.

Green ferns on a mossy log.

How does the forest carbon market work?

The burning of fossil fuels through transportation, manufacturing, and industrial processes emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some entities that are required by law to limit or offset their carbon dioxide emissions, as well as entities that are voluntarily offsetting their emissions, may purchase carbon credits that are generated from growing forests.

As trees grow, they use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide from the air into wood. This process can be measured, and values can be assigned in the form of carbon credits. Carbon credits can then be purchased by entities to help them reach their emission reduction goals. One carbon credit equals one tonne (metric ton) of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.


What is a carbon credit?

A carbon credit is a tradeable asset issued by an official registry that represents a reduction or removal of one metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon credits are bought and sold within an accredited marketplace. Carbon credits can be generated from carbon-storing activities such as the conservation and sustainable management of forests.

What is permanence?

Permanence means that carbon reductions or removals are providing lasting benefits to the environment, and that those benefits cannot be reversed. For Members of Forest Carbon Works, this means that trees (and the carbon stored in their biomass) remain intact for at least 100 years. This is because the global warming potential of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 100 years. Membership with Forest Carbon Works has a minimum of a 125-year Membership Lifetime. That’s a lasting impact!

What is additionality?

In order for a forest to be eligible, it must demonstrate that it is additional. Additionality means that actions that are taking place (i.e., maintaining carbon stocks on a property) are beyond what would be otherwise required by law, regulation, or legally binding mandate, and that they exceed what would otherwise occur in a conservative business-as-usual scenario. All forestland enrolled with Forest Carbon Works is additional because already-protected properties are not eligible (such as federal, state, or municipal lands), nor are properties that have highly restrictive conservation easements.

What is leakage?

Leakage is when the reduction in emissions in one areas shifts demand to increase in carbon emissions in another area. In this sense, overall emissions are not truly reduced. Forest Carbon Works prevents leakage by requiring Members to enroll all of their forested acreage. In the event that they acquire additional forested acreage after the time of their Membership commencement, it must have a sustainable forest management plan in place if harvesting is intended. Alternatively, Members can also enroll this additionally acquired acreage with Forest Carbon Works.

The large majority of forests enrolled in Membership with Forest Carbon Works are owned by private forest landowners who are aiming to conserve, sustainably manage, and pass on their forests to future generations. Often times, these forests are threatened by overharvesting or development due to financial pressures faced by private forest landowners.

How is forestland defined?

Forestland is defined as real estate of ten acres or more that supports, or has the potential to support, at least ten percent tree canopy cover.

What are emissions?

Emissions are the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from sources and processes in a facility, including from the combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum products, and natural gas liquids.

What are emissions reductions?

An emissions reduction is the term used to quantify the amount of release of a greenhouse gas, notably used in terms of prevention of a release. A single emissions reduction unit is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent.

What are GHGs?

The term GHGs stands for greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are gases within our atmosphere which absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. Excess of these gases due to human activity are widely accepted as a major contributor to global climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the mostly widely recognized greenhouse gas and is the only greenhouse gas pertinent to forest carbon. It is also used as the standard unit of measurement in the carbon market.

What is a Payment Period?

The Payment Period is a pre-determined period in which Forest Carbon Works pays Members for the conservation and sustainable management of their forests. For Forest Carbon Works Membership, the Payment Period is 25 years.

What is a Legacy Period?

The Legacy Period is a predetermined period for which a forest enrolled in Forest Carbon Works, and the carbon within it, will remain intact after payments have ceased. For Forest Carbon Works Membership, the Legacy Period is 100 years. This 100 years ensures that carbon storage is truly impactful and that forests can be protected for their ecological benefits and for future generations.

What is a Membership Lifetime?

The Membership Lifetime is composed of the 25-year Payment Period plus a 100-year Legacy Period. It is the time period over which conservation activities (i.e. carbon storage and annual payments) and long-term impact are implemented. The 25-year Payment Period is renewable in additional 5-year Membership Periods. The 100-year Legacy Period always follows the end of the most recent 5-year Membership Period (whether after year 25, or beyond). Thus, the minimum Membership Lifetime is 125 years.

Curious about conserving your forest?

Learn how to check your eligibility and apply for membership.

How to become a member