Forest Carbon Emission Offsets

A forest carbon emission offset project is one of the options available to explicitly manage for the carbon resource at a local or project-level scale, resulting in measurable atmospheric benefits.

The Forest Carbon Emissions Offset Project & Atmospheric Benefit Sharing Policy provides guidance to government staff and proponents regarding development of forest carbon emission offset projects and the management of atmospheric benefits.

'Atmospheric benefits' is a term used to describe reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by reduction or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions or increases in their removal from the atmosphere.

Project Types

Forest carbon emission offset projects include activity-based and non-activity-based projects.

Activity-based projects involve on-the-ground activities such as tree planting in order to reduce emissions and increase sequestration. These projects include:

  • Afforestation & reforestation
  • Forest & range rehabilitation
  • Forest fertilization, spacing or thinning
  • Forest fire or disease suppression
  • Re-vegetation or rehabilitation of vegetation on land or foreshore

Activity-based forest carbon emission offset projects can apply to virtually all regions and forest types across the province. They require investment in the land base to pay for activities on the ground, but, in return, provide increased employment opportunities and result in an improved forest resource.

Non-activity based projects do not involve a direct activity to improve the forest resource and do not require substantive investments in order to store more carbon on the land base. They are typically conservation based projects that may include the co-management of other resource values.

Non-activity based forest carbon emission offset projects may generate atmospheric benefits in some unique cases; however, they are not widely applicable across all forest types and regions in the province (e.g. areas prone to frequent disturbance events). These projects negatively impact forest sector employment, but in some cases provide environmental benefits that are potentially sound trade-offs for the loss of economic activity.