Measure Twice and Cut Less: Verification & Rigor in Carbon Canopy

One of the hallmarks of Dogwood Alliance’s Carbon Canopy forest carbon project has been an insistence on rigor in our carbon accounting and in our forest management certification. That is why the Carbon Canopy project develops forest carbon offsets using the Air Resources Board protocol under California’s groundbreaking Global Warming Solutions Act with the forest managed to conserve and enhance the carbon held in the forests with deliberate, responsible forest management under the gold standard Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

So, what does this “rigor” really mean? For our forest carbon projects it means a lot of work. Foresters and forestry technicians go out in the woods and measure trees on 1/10th of an acre to survey plots spread across the project area. To gain a high degree of statistical certainty, we number crunch large amounts of data, determining the standing carbon contained in the project areas’ different forest types. We perform extensive computer modeling of the forest carbon cycle, including projected growth rates and FSC logging over a one hundred year period.


Dogwood Alliance Heartwood Carbon Canopy
Field verification of Dogwood’s Heartwood Carbon Canopy Project near Dante, VA


In both the ARB and FSC systems, all of the work is reviewed by third parties to ensure compliance with the relevant standards and regulations as well as our plans. In the FSC process, it’s called an “audit”, and in the ARB forest carbon world, the process is called “verification”. Both the FSC and the ARB require not one but two sets of eyes to confirm that the benefits promised under these systems are delivered. Just this week, we’ve got a team out in the field, verifying one of the Carbon Canopy’s projects in southwest Virginia.

Forest management and forest carbon accounting are both complicated subjects related to complex natural systems. That is why it is critically important to have third-parties review and verify and audit the claims made under the systems.

Building forest carbon projects takes a lot of work. But it is potentially a very powerful tool to re-balance the forest products industry, which has for far too long been based only on logging forests for wood products. These projects can help fulfil the critical role of forests in mitigating climate change. With one of our Carbon Canopy projects currently undergoing verification, we’re building the leading edge of responsible 21st century forestry on the ground right now.

Learn more about Carbon Canopy here:

Major US Companies Help Landowners Find New Value in Conserving Forest Carbon in US South 


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