The Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) near Whistler and the Province of British Columbia have signed an Atmospheric Benefits Sharing Agreement that allows for the generation and sale of carbon offsets. This is the first such agreement to be signed with a B.C. community forest.
A carbon offset is a credit for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be used to compensate (offset) the emissions of another party. Carbon offsets are typically measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalents (or CO2e), transacted through carbon registries, and bought and sold for voluntary or regulated emissions reductions.
The carbon offsets generated by the Cheakamus Community Forest project are created by improved forest management actions on the 33,000 hectares it manages. These actions are guided by the community forest’s Ecosystem Based Management plan, in reduced harvest volumes, extended harvest rotations, expanded reserves, protection of old growth forests and important wildlife habitat. These voluntary actions go above and beyond regulatory requirements, and are informed by the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
Carbon emissions reductions were quantified with the BC Forest Carbon Offset Protocol, and verified to the BC Emissions Offset Regulation. The Brinkman Group and Ecotrust Canada have managed development of offsets from the project. Brinkman Climate is managing the offset contracting and sale, critical to generating revenues that allow improved forest management activities to take place on the land base.
“I would like to acknowledge our Community Forest partners, the Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations, and others who has been involved in this initiative.” said Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, Whistler Mayor and CCF Board member. “Our aim is to balance economic considerations, cultural values, and recreational interests with fire risk, climate change and biodiversity, and the carbon program provides an additional funding source for us to meet our community and the community forest’s goals.”
“This innovative model works well for the Whistler corridor and shows how forestry and tourism can successfully co-exist,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Now that the Province and the Cheakamus Community Forest have reached agreement on sharing the rights to the emissions reductions generated through the project, offset sales are possible.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler plans to offset its carbon footprint this year by purchasing carbon offsets from the Cheakamus Community Forest, rather than from outside the community. Offsets are being offered for sale to organizations in the Sea to Sky corridor and beyond, which are interested in being carbon neutral and supporting improved forest management in the forests around Whistler. Discussions with a long-term buyer for the majority of offsets are underway.
The carbon project supports the Cheakamus Community Forest’s vision to be among the best managed forests in British Columbia by including community values and focusing on the sustainability of the forest resources.
About the Cheakamus Community Forest
The Cheakamus Community Forest encompasses more than 30,000 hectares of land surrounding Whistler. It was established in April 2009 when the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) jointly signed a 25-year tenure with the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range. These three equal partners oversee the management and operation of the forest under the auspices of the Cheakamus Community Forest Society, an independent not-for-profit organization.
Community forests are different from other tenures because they are managed by the community, for the benefit of the community. The Cheakamus Community Forest actively works with local stakeholders to develop forest harvesting and management plans that benefit the larger community, such as protecting viewsheds, cultural assets, and important habitats.