California Tropical Forest Standard Looks For Comprehensive Solutions

Lush, green, and home to half the world’s species.  Preserving rainforests has long been considered an environmental priority.  But what if setting aside rainforest land could also be a solution for other environmental problems?   Through the process of photosynthesis, plants release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.  Deforestation both reduces habitat and also affects the planet’s ability to reduce carbon emissions.

The California Air Resources Board, which is a 16 member board that oversees air quality for the state of California, has set up regulatory guidelines for both state and international governments which will reduce deforestation and work with local communities.    These jurisdictions are referred to as sector programs.

Dave Clegern, the Public Information Officer For Climate Programs, said that the sector program could be a state, national organization, or national government.   Even though the California Air Resources Board is based in California, they do partner with other governments.   He said that the program was a set of guidelines which could be adopted by a number of jurisdictions.   He explained that the way the program worked was that a certain area of rainforest would be set aside for carbon sequestration and would involve the local population directly in the project.   Clegern said that many government projects in the past have not done involved local populations.

The Revised California Tropical Forest Standard Criteria For Assessing Jurisdiction Scale Programs That Reduce Emissions From Tropical Deforestation published in September 2018  is a report which outlines how sector plans would work.  The report states that one credit is equal to one metric ton of carbon dioxide.   Once emissions reductions are reached, credits would be issued by the implementing jurisdiction.   Reports would be filed that document that emissions reductions have been reached and these are done by each sector.  This report must be independently verified by experts in forestry, biometrics, cultural anthropology, human rights, or related field.  If credits are found to be in error, they would be invalidated and the holder would be responsible for the replacement of those credits.

Clegern said he believes the program will be effective, though it still needs to be adopted.   Our planet faces a number of environmental issues.  However, looking for solutions that are innovative, comprehensive, and involve local populations can go a long way to creating long-term solutions.





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