22-0126 ZC Local Carbon Offset Supplier Part 2

Note this post was revised on February 11, 2022 in response to additional information provided by the project team. 

QUESTION

As agreed in our dialogues via the online platform, here is a detailed description of Arbre évolution's programs demonstrating the rigor of the carbon offset process in order to get it approved by the ILFI. 

Arbre evolution offers two carbon offset programs that are local:

       Programme de reboisement social : Social reforestation program
       Programme de carbone riverain : Neighbor Carbon program

We will describe here only the Programme de carbone riverainTM

- Additionality :

Carbone riverain™ aims to expand the required-by-law 3-meter waterside buffer strips to 8 meters, which represents an additional 5 meters of width taken from the planting area. This expansion provides an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the ecological functions of buffer zones between fields and our rivers through vegetation.

- Verification :

The Carbone Riverain programme uses a third party verification by the respective watershed Committee where the plantation takes place. These organisations in Quebec < https://robvq.qc.ca/obv-du-quebec/>; have a public mandatory responsibility to protect and improve water quality through water management plans. Since they are funded with public resources, they are independent and the verification of the CR projects fits well into their mission: they not only verify if the carbon has been stored according to the project plan, they also assure that the plantations are planned and implemented according to the watershed management plans these organisations, by law, are executing. Verifications by these organisations (called OBV, from “Organisme de bassin-versant”), take place after the plantation (validation) and then every 5 years, as in an VCS afforestation protocole. Verification and validation reports are registered in the Carbone Riverain Register and are open for consultation by the public. OBVs have no interest in the plantations, except for the payment they receive for verification every five years.

*---> The third-party verification is operated independently by the local watershed Committee where each plantation occurs. The validation report (year #1) and each verification report (year #5, year #10, and so on to year #40) completed and signed by the OBV representative is shown on each project's web page* < https://carboneriverain.org/projets/ruisseaufleury/>* for public consultation. (We must receive very soon the validation report of l'OBV du Chêne for our first project, Ferme du Ruisseau Fleury. The post-plantation visit was made a few weeks ago).*

*The role of these organisations is to protect and improve water quality through water management plans. They have no interest in the plantations and they seek to assure that the plantations respect the integrity of the environnement, the law, and, of course, the carbon offsetting prevision contained in our protocole, for each project."*

Enviro-Acces is- with the BNQ - among the only organisations certified as an institution to carry out ISO 14064-3 audits. We chose to work with VBOs because they have more technical and landscape knowledge, their local integration and the consideration of other benefits than carbon.

Following the request for more details on how double-counting is avoided, I would like to argue the following:

1.     As explained above, validation and verification are handled by official Watershed management Organisations, with a legislative mandate to improve water quality in their respective watershed (hydrological basin). Validators and verifiers are requested to check the register for completeness, accuracy and formality (all data and documents are signed off). This is part of the validation and verification procedure. 

2.     In GES management, a publicly accessible register is the main tool to avoid double counting. The Carbone Riverain program has its own register that operates the same way as a Plan Vivo or VCS registers: it holds per project all the information: preparatory phase, the results of the additionality tests, the results of the initial [carbon] removal estimation on the web-based calculator, the result of the questionnaire on carbon quality held with the farmer, the plantation design, the carbon buyers for every project, withdrawn credits (after purchase by a client) with the date of withdrawal, validation and verification reports, project final report (at yr 40), pictures. This is an example of a data point in the registry: https://carboneriverain.org/projets/ruisseaufleury/

3.     As you will notice, contrary to classic carbon projects, the projects are ear-tagged from the beginning with the final buyer of the carbon. For example, the project in the link above has been ear tagged with Regeneration Canada, Nutrite, Oneka LojiQ and Farinex, which are the final buyers of the CRUs. This constitutes a traceability system from the farm to the carbon market (buyer), and is the third mechanism of Carbone riverain to avoid double counting. 

- Enforceability

“Carbone riverain™” agroforestry developments allow for the widening of vegetated waterside strips from 3 to 8 meters, which consists of a gain of 5 meters in width on the cultivated area side.

The plants planted are as follows:
- Hybrid poplars,
- Noble hardwoods,
- Conifers,
- Shrubs.

One hectare of landscaped land, i.e. a strip of 2,000 linear meters by 5 meters wide, can sequester 1,559.67 tons of CO2 after 40 years of growth.

The financial compensation paid to farmers is significant and will generate the land needed to offset their customers' CO2. Arbre-evolution will have access to approximately 3 hectares of land in 2022, which is over 4500 tonnes of CO2 sequestered.

Arbre-evolution have 4 field teams equipped with ATVs, trailers, trucks and forestry equipment capable of performing a large volume of reforestation operations. They have been carrying out agroforestry projects since 2013 (see https://www.arbre-evolution.org/agroforesterie) and have the expertise required to complete all their mandates

- Permanence

For each project, “Arbre-Évolution” includes a 30% buffer of trees to create a reserve of sequestered carbon. In case of reversals, this reserve is used to compensate for the lost trees. The projects have a 40 years duration and the permanence after the project is ensured by:

Ø A non-harvesting contract signed by the agricultural producer
Ø An easement in perpetuity signed by the agricultural producer for the entire reforested area

The easement contract is in perpetuity, so that the non-agriculture length in perpetuity.

“carbone riverain” proposes vegetation projects for waterside strips over a period of 40 years, according to a specific plan, in order to ensure the proper sequestration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Awareness

Programme de carbone riverain

“Carbone riverain™” not only makes a difference for waterside ecosystems and the quality of our drinking water, it also puts in place a transparent and rigorous monitoring system involving key players in the territory. This connection with the driving forces making a difference in the regions of Quebec seems to us to be an added value to the protocol that they are deploying. Farmers, carbon credit buyers, representatives of ministries, professionals from watershed organizations, agro-counsellors, Arbre-Évolution technicians, researchers, citizens and students: all have the opportunity to play a role in the evolution of the projects carried out by “Carbone riverain™”.

You could also be aware of another inspiring program :

Programme de reboisement social

The mission of Arbre-évolution is to combine carbon offsetting and environmental education by planting trees in living environments: communal land, schoolyards, public parks…

In addition, “Arbre évolution” created “Le Semoir: ateliers écoéducatifs” : a pan-Quebec directory of environmental training for elementary and high school students.

Additional Information Supplemental to the Above

Details on the Carbon Offset Project:
The additional 5 meter buffer contains two zones divided roughly equally, containing two categories of planted trees:
- a zone of hybrid poplars, and
- a zone of other deciduous trees and conifers.
The carbon benefit for all is calculated for a 40-year period. At 40 years the poplars are required to be cut, but the other trees are permanently protected by an easement.

Third Party review of Carbon Riverain for baseline scenario and additionality, the selection of sources, sinks, and reservoirs (SSRs), the quantification methodology, the monitoring plan, and the qualitative criteria for carbon offsets.

Chart comparing criteria within the Verified Carbon Standard (an eligible supplier of Green-e certified offsets) to the provisions of the Carbon Riverain project. 

ANSWER

The project team previously submitted to the Dialogue requesting approval to use a local carbon offset program to which the Institute responded that the request did not adequately address equivalency with Green-e approved programs. The current post is a follow-up providing additional detail on the proposed offset program.

Based on the information provided, the Institute finds that the provisions of Arbre-Evolution’s Carbone Riverain program put in place to assure additionality, leakage prevention, permanence, and audited verification support a determination of equivalency with Green-e certification. Further, the planting program complies with the criteria for Reforestation projects under the Verified Carbon Standard, which is approved by Green-e as an eligible source of carbon offsets. The submitting Zero Carbon project may count Arbre-evolution Carbone Riverain offsets in full towards its carbon offset requirement.

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