Climate Change

A Carbon Project in the Wilds of Alaska

The rugged coastal terrain of Alaska’s Afognak Island is home to the Roosevelt elk, more than 160 species of birds and abundant wild salmon runs. The island’s 500-year-old Sitka spruce temperate rainforest is also the native habitat of the largest grizzly species in the world–the Kodiak bear, which can grow to an imposing 1,500 pounds.

Female Brown Bear with Three Cubs

To protect this pristine landscape from logging, the American Land Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation acquired 8,200 acres (3,300 hectares) and related timber rights from a privately held company on Afognak. They created the Afognak Forest Carbon Project (AFCP), which the Rainforest Alliance validated and verified in a 2012 audit. The project represents our first Improved Forest Management validation and verification according the Verified Carbon Standard, a major carbon accounting standard used in both forest and non-forest carbon sectors.

Afognak is part of a growing movement of land trusts, nonprofit conservation groups and foundations that use carbon verification to support the protection of high-value ecosystems. The AFCP permits no timber production or harvesting, a model that has raised its carbon sequestration to impressive levels in comparison to the clear-cutting scenario that would likely have occurred without protection.

From January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2011 (the period covered by our verification), the project removed from the atmosphere 413,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent–equal to the annual emissions of nearly 69,000 compact cars. The revenue generated by the sale of the carbon offsets is used to support the continued monitoring required to maintain the integrity of the project, as well as ongoing verification costs.

This is an excerpt from the Rainforest Alliance’s brand new 2012 Annual Report. We’ll continue sharing report highlights over the coming weeks.

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