British Columbia has planted more than 20,000 trees to kick off an innovative program that uses private-sector investment to stimulate ecosystem restoration and reforestation on Crown land, says Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The B.C. Forest Carbon Partnership Program could see more than one million trees planted in the province over the next five years, helping to restore forests devastated by wildfire and the mountain pine beetle infestation while reducing B.C.'s carbon footprint.
Under the program, corporate investors pay to plant trees - which store carbon and lower greenhouse gas levels - and then receive a carbon offset credit. Over time, the program could expand to hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest.
“The Forest Carbon Partnership Program allows us to create jobs for British Columbians in the short term and enables increased reforestation of damaged lands,” says Thomson. “In the long term, the program will enhance the province’s ability to store carbon and address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Minister of Environment Mary Polak says that although government leadership is important in maintaining B.C.’s internationally recognized status as a climate action leader, collaborative partnerships play an essential role.
“Ultimately, it is innovative collaborations between the public and private sectors such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Program that will help B.C. achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” she says.
The provincial program is being organized by the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative, an independent organization set up to manage both the investments and subsequent carbon credits. The co-operative, which will use the carbon offset credits for long-term replanting and forest management activities, was selected through a competitive bid process, posted in fall 2012.
“This is a ground-breaking program, perhaps the first of its kind in North America,” says MaryAnneArcand, chair, Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative. “It means that the province can address important climate change and reforestation issues while providing investors to make a positive impact on the economy and the environment. Together, we are making an investment in the future of the province.”
Forest ecosystems are extremely important for the worldwide storage of carbon and account for about 40 per cent of the total carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems.
Approximately 60 per cent of British Columbia's land base is forest land and 95 per cent of these forest lands are public. Some of these forests contain the most carbon storage per hectare for any forest type in the world.
B.C. Forest Carbon Partnership Program
Our Natural Advantage: Forest Sector Strategy for British Columbia
Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative