Offsets FAQ

What is a managed forest carbon offset?

Your retirement of one carbon offset is equal to the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide. A managed forest carbon offset represents an agreement between someone who emits carbon dioxide and someone who stores carbon dioxide.

In this case, the person who provides the storage is a forest landowner who has committed to long-term, sustainable forest management. Emitters are a person, group of people, or business who wish to balance all or part of their emissions with carbon that has been stored in sustainably managed forestland.

As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide, which is one part carbon and two parts oxygen. They use the carbon to build new wood and release the oxygen back into the air. Through the managed forest carbon offsets market, landowners are paid for the amount of carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere by their forests and stored as the building block of new wood.

What are emissions?

There are many types of emissions. When talking about your carbon footprint, “emission” refers to greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere through such activities as driving, flying and burning fossil fuels. Greenhouse gases include methane, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide. For more information about greenhouse gas emissions, visit the Environmental Protection Agency by clicking here.

Why should I offset my emissions?

The most effective way you can help the planet is to reduce your emissions as much as possible. Examples of steps you can take are found on our Conserve page. Once you have taken steps to reduce your carbon footprint, offsetting is a way you can balance out what remains.

How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

There are many simple and easy ways to reduce your footprint today. Check out our Conserve page for more information. Or click here to check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for more detailed information and resources.

Why should I offset with Appalachian Forest Offsets?

When you offset with Appalachian Forest Offsets, you are doing much more than just reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. You are helping families in Central Appalachia keep their forests growing for the future, for the benefit of all. Right now, Appalachian forests are being converted to other uses such as roads, urban development and mines at rates averaging over one square mile per week. Appalachian forests are among the most diverse on the planet and provide countless ecosystem services locally and globally. Your choice to offset with Appalachian Forest Offsets helps build a new economy in Central Appalachia — one that values growing forests, clean water, wildlife and the inspiring beauty these forests provide every day. See our Why Choose Us? page to learn more.

How do I know these forest carbon offsets are real and credible?

Our offsets are third-party verified. This means that a third-party verifier conducts a strict and thorough audit to ensure that we are generating offsets that are credible.

What is additionality?

Additionality means that our offset project goes above and beyond business-as-usual behavior, resulting in the sequestration of carbon that would not have been stored otherwise. For managed forest carbon offset projects, long-term enrollment in sustainable forest certification (i.e. sustainable forest management) results in increased sequestration. In other words, your carbon offset donation helps increase the number of family forest owners practicing sustainable forest management.

How do I know these offsets are additional?

Additionality is all about change in behavior. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Additional land-use and management changes can maintain and enhance carbon sequestration levels in the U.S., reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases, and thus help address the climate change problem.” Nearly 90 percent of forestland in Central Appalachia is privately owned, and less than five percent is under any sort of management plan. By enrolling in our program, landowners are managing their land better, which combats climate change through more effective carbon sequestration.

How can I be assured that these forest carbon offsets are permanent?

Landowners must sign a contract and commit to maintain their forest certification for 15 years from the date of enrollment. If they lose their certification, or cut trees below their carbon baseline, they must replace any offsets they lost at the current market value. This ensures that no matter what happens, you are guaranteed that the offset donation you make today is going towards the permanent reduction of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Do I have to live in Central Appalachia to offset my emissions with Appalachian forest carbon offsets?

No. A reduction in greenhouse gases anywhere in the world helps in the fight against climate change. You can offset your emissions wherever you live by retiring an offset in Central Appalachian forests.

How are the offsets calculated?

Every landowner must hire a certified consulting forester to conduct a carbon baseline inventory. This inventory takes data measurements for total woody biomass in their forest. The inventory must have a 10 percent error or less at the 90 percent confidence interval. This data is then entered in the USDA Forest Service Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS). FVS calculates the total woody biomass in the forest and projects each year’s growth. After 10 years, another inventory will be conducted to verify the accuracy of the FVS projections and settle out any discrepancies that may have arisen from the 90 percent confidence interval. Also, each year every landowner must report the species and diameter of any trees that were cut or damaged on the property, which is then added to the FVS to recalculate the projected total woody biomass for their property.

What does it mean to retire a carbon offset?

When you make a donation to retire an offset through the Appalachian Carbon Partnership, the offset is permanently retired. This means that the offsets can never be traded or resold.

Is my donation for Appalachian Forest Offsets considered a charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes?

Yes. When you donate to the Appalachian Carbon Partnership, which is a project of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, you are making a charitable contribution. MACED issues tax receipts in January for offset donations made the previous year. You should consult your tax advisor for more information about charitable donations.

What is cap and trade?

According to the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency, “Cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.” To learn more, click here.

What is certification?

Certification refers to the process of getting your management plan or stewardship plan certified by a third party. This means that a third-party certifier will periodically check to make sure you are following your management plan. All forested properties owned by the landowner must obtain certification of sustainable forest management from a Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications  (PEFC) recognized program, such as the American Tree Farm system, or through the Forest Stewardship Council. This includes all eligible forestlands owned.