Originally published by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. By PJ Marshall, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Restore the Earth Foundation.

Reforestation adds to the Earth’s net carbon storage and moderates global warming. As a forest grows, the trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere storing it in their growing trunk, branches, leaves and root systems. A forest carbon offset is a metric ton of CO2 equivalent, (CO2e) of newly stored carbon emission reductions.

A corporation or investor can demonstrate their commitment to “net-zero” environmental targets and/or greenhouse gas reductions by investing in a reforestation project that creates new carbon offsets. These emissions reductions are in addition to those reductions from existing forests and the newly created offsets are retired and not traded.

Reforestation projects are significant because they also generate additional co-benefits to the environment, local communities and economies. Benefits like erosion control, nutrient mitigation, improved water quality, habitat creation, enhanced biodiversity, recreational activities and all the related economic opportunities from which these benefits trickle down.

So, why hasn’t major investment been pouring in?

Historically, there has not been significant investment in reforestation projects because of the time gap between initial funding and the assignment of carbon offsets.  This time gap is often too long for corporations and investors interested in including reforestation in their carbon reduction portfolios.

This is about to change!

The Game Changer
Reforestation reached a significant milestone when the Climate Action Reserve, made a game changing announcement.  The Climate Action Reserve launched an initiative called Climate Forward, where corporations making an investment in carbon offset projects, including reforestation, can realize all the carbon emission reduction offsets, dividends and co-benefits created TODAY.

The Climate Action Reserve is one of the world’s most prominent carbon offset registries, managing 80% of North America’s voluntary offset market. They are also the project registry for the State of California’s compliance program.

Restore the Earth Foundation, a non-profit working to restore 1 million acres in North America’s Amazon recognized the potential for the Climate Forward program to drive nature-based solutions like reforestation to the forefront of efforts that address excess carbon in the atmosphere.

With this recognition, Restore the Earth partnered with TerraCarbon to develop a forward crediting accounting methodology for reforestation to be included in the Climate Forward program. While the methodology forecasts the emission reductions from reforestation overtime, with Climate Forward the investor is issued offsets at the time of the investment, instead of waiting for the maturity of the trees decades into the future. This eliminates the time gap from the investment and provides the offsets upfront for the emission reductions created from the project.

Climate Forward’s approved carbon accounting methodologies meets a strict set of standards for conservative in advance (ex-ante) accounting of future emissions reductions. Projects must be “real, additional, permanent, confirmable (verified by 3rd party); and enforceable.”

Climate Forward provides enormous benefits and incentive for investors to be pro-active in their investment in reforestation for carbon capture.

This new program is ideal for any corporation that has facilities, supply chain activities, travel, etc., that require carbon mitigation. Investing in reforestation projects under this new Climate Forward methodology is also perfect for visionary companies leading the way with ambitious goals of reaching net zero for all of or a component of their operations.

Restore the Earth’s first Climate Forward project is a 5,000 acre reforestation project in the Mississippi River Basin. The project is projected to remove over 1,000,000 mt CO2e from the atmosphere over its 40-year project lifetime.

One of the first funders of Restore the Earth’s 5,000 acre project is VMware, a “climate forward” Silicon Valley technology company that has actively embraced a visionary carbon offset strategy.

We applaud the Climate Action Reserve, Restore the Earth and VMware for demonstrating effective leadership at this crucial time when climate action is imperative,” said Nicolette Bartlett, Director of Climate Change for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Forests are the most efficient carbon sinks on Earth, delivering an abundance of environmental, social and economic co-benefits. With Restore the Earth’s landscape scale reforestation approach and Climate Forward providing the incentive today for investing in reforestation, we can take action now to reduce global warming and address climate change.

Click here for Restore the Earth’s White Paper on Climate Forward.

Click here to learn more about the Climate Action Reserve’s Climate Forward program.

Click here to learn more about Restore the Earth’s 1 million acre initiative in “North America’s Amazon”, Mississippi River Basin.