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
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.
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
Science ExpertsQuantification 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 McPherson—Retired 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 McPhersonExecutive Director and Founder
Christine ColeAdministrative Manager
Board of Advisors
Ara EricksonWeyerhaeuser Company Director Corporate Sustainability
Gerry GraySustainable Urban Forest Coalition Former Co-Chair
Rachel HolmesThe Nature Conservancy Urban Forest Strategist
Ian LeahyAmerican Forests Vice President of Urban Forestry
Pete SmithArbor Day Foundation Urban Forest Program Manager
Skip SwensonForterra Vice President Policy and Programming
Our WorkA 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.
City Forest ResearchQuantifying 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.