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About City Forest Credits

Carbon and Impact Standards

Creating greener, healthier, and more equitable cities

Our Story

City Forest Credits is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit carbon registry that manages carbon and impact standards for metropolitan areas in the United States.

Prior to founding the organization in 2015, we spoke with urban forest leaders and science experts about the lack of public funding for declining city forests and inequitable distribution across neighborhoods. With a collaborative cross-sector team, we developed two innovative approaches to address these problems. 

We offer two services for the private sector to contribute to local climate action and enrich our communities. Companies can purchase carbon offsets from urban forest projects, or invest in certified planting projects with health, equity, and environmental impacts.

Our foundation has provided multi-year support for City Forest Credits. We cannot imagine a team better equipped to do this important work – top forest scientists, experience in law, business, nonprofit, urban forestry, and carbon, with the support of organizations across the U.S. The work of City Forest Credits should become a global standard.

—Lauren Taubman, Trustee
Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation

Our Supporters

We couldn't do this work without generous funding from our supporters. Thanks to the Polsinelli law firm for its legal work on intellectual property issues.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation

Flora Family Foundation

Bullitt Foundation

Laird Norton Family Foundation

McKibben Merner Family Foundation

Beardsley Family Foundation

Walder Family Foundation

American Forests is proud to support and partner with City Forest Credits to accomplish something that is long overdue – putting our urban forests into the carbon markets. CFC articulates better than anyone the premium value of a carbon credit from city forests. These credits are like the rare earth minerals of carbon credits – lower in volume, higher in price, but extremely valuable to companies because the multiple benefits are delivered to where 80% of the population resides – in cities and towns.

—Jad Daley, CEO
American Forests

Science Experts

Quantification and verification

We are supported by urban forest managers, scientists, and subject matter experts across the country. Find technical information including the Standard, Protocols, and verification requirements on the Standards/Protocols page.

Two main contributors to the work of City Forest Credits include:

Dr. Greg McPhersonRetired Research Scientist, U.S. Forest Service
Dr. Greg McPherson is an internationally known scientist who pioneered the quantitative analysis of urban forest benefit-cost analysis. He founded the Center for Urban Forest Research with the U.S. Forest Service’s urban forest research unit in Davis, CA. Greg led development of the Carbon Calculator and of the quantitative methodologies on two urban forest protocols in California. Greg has published over 135 peer-reviewed articles and won numerous awards for his work, including the U.S. EPA Honor Award and the U.S. Forest Service 2008 Chief’s Award for Engaging Urban America. He has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals, including Urban Forestry and Urban Greening and the Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry.

Dr. Gordon Smith
Dr. Gordon Smith brings many years of experience in carbon accounting, greenhouse gas standards, verification, and implementation. Dr. Smith is a member of the editorial board of the journal Carbon Management; Greenhouse Gas Management Institute advisory committee; accredited expert with the Verified Carbon Standard in afforestation/deforestation, improved forest management, avoided deforestation (REDD), and agricultural land management; and AFOLU Technical Committee of the American Carbon Registry.

Our Management Team

Mark McPherson

Executive Director and Founder
Mark is the Executive Director and Founder of City Forest Credits. Mark is a lawyer and business person and has been active in urban forestry for many years. He drafted the first conservation easement for the City of Seattle Heritage Tree Program over 25 years ago. He received a Founder’s Award from a tree preservation group in Seattle for his legal work in many tree cases. For the ten years prior to founding CFC, Mark managed a business and co-founded a website. He was a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill and has a Ph.D. and law degree from Harvard. Mark served on the work group at the Climate Action Reserve in 2013-14 that developed an urban forest carbon protocol.

Liz Johnston

Liz has over a decade of experience leading complex social impact and environmental projects. From boreal forests of Canada to growing cities across the U.S., she is committed to driving change that benefits people and planet through innovative strategy and team leadership. Working with non-profit organizations, local government and Global Fortune 500 companies, she has demonstrated her ability to cultivate relationships across industries. Liz grew up in Seattle, Washington and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Western Washington University, Huxley College of the Environment.

Christine Cole

Administrative Manager
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Christine moved to Seattle to explore the vibrant cultures and beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. A dedication to grassroots urban forest stewardship introduced her to the world of non-profit accounting and grant compliance at conservation organizations. She has a B.A. in Management and Operations from Washington State University and an MBA in Sustainable Business from Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

Board of Advisors

Ara Erickson

Weyerhaeuser Company Director Corporate Sustainability

Gerry Gray

Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition Former Co-Chair

Rachel Holmes

The Nature Conservancy Urban Forest Strategist

Ian Leahy

American Forests Vice President of Urban Forestry

Pete Smith

Arbor Day Foundation Urban Forest Program Manager

Skip Swenson

Forterra Vice President Policy and Programming

Our Work

A holistic approach

Our work spans three areas of focus: social equity, human health, and the environment. With the majority of the U.S. population in cities and towns, it is imperative that we create livable communities that support the health and well-being of all residents. Trees are one part of the equation in building a future for everyone to thrive.

See a map of current carbon and impact project locations, and check out projects on the Carbon Registry and Impact Directory.

City Forest Research

Quantifying our valuable public resources

City forests in the United States provide $18.3 billion in benefits per year. This value is expected to grow as urban areas continue to expand. See the White Paper about the functions, scale, and value of city forests.


Many non-profit urban forest organizations don’t have capacity funding to scope or assess how a carbon program or impact project could work in their city. If you are interested in providing seed funding we can connect you with local partners that are seeking funding to lay the groundwork.

Our overarching goal is to provide new revenue streams for declining national urban forests. Whether that is a robust, long-term carbon program or a series of small but valuable impact certification projects, we want urban forest organizations and local government entities to be able to grow and care for the city trees and communities that rely on this public resource. We measure our impact based on the success of our local partners. 

CFC is a registry dedicated only to urban forestry. A carbon registry is a non-profit organization that administers protocols, rules, quantification methods, third-party verification standards, and issues and tracks carbon credits.  

There are three large carbon registries that each handle dozens of other carbon project types, from gas plants to landfills to forest projects – Verra, American Carbon Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve.

The State of California developed an urban forest carbon protocol in 2011, and the Climate Action Reserve developed a second urban forest protocol in 2013-2014. But neither of those protocols resulted in any applications for projects. CFC and its many urban forest stakeholders nationally began their work in 2015 to learn from the practical failures of those earlier protocols and create much-needed carbon credits for the public resource that is our urban forests.