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Carbon Protocols

Urban Forest Carbon Program

Rulebooks for verified carbon projects

City Forest Credits is the national standard for greenhouse gas emission reduction and removal for tree projects in cities and towns. Developed by leading scientists and urban forest professionals, the Standard and Protocols define the set of rules and requirements that tree planting or preservation projects must follow in order to earn third-party verified carbon credits.

CFC Program
Tree Preservation
Tree Planting

As an urban forest scientist, I led the quantification of carbon in the Air Resources Board protocol in 2011 and a second attempt at a protocol at the Climate Action Reserve in 2013. I've been proud to contribute to the quantification work of City Forest Credits and see it result in carbon projects in multiple cities.

—Dr. Greg McPherson, Retired Senior Scientist
U.S. Forest Service

National Experts

An experienced protocol drafting group included top scientists and stakeholders from diverse subject fields. Members expertise represented city climate programs, watershed management, arborists, utilities, and land trusts. All members served voluntarily and without compensation to further the advancement of the public resource of urban forests.

Zach Baumer

City of Austin Climate Program Manager

Rich Dolesh

National Recreation and Park Association Vice President Conservation and Parks

Ian Leahy

American Forests Vice President of Urban Forestry

Scott Maco

Davey Institute Director of Research and Development

Jenny McGarvey

Alliance for Chesapeake Bay Forest Programs Manager

Greg McPherson

U.S. Forest Service Research Scientist

Mark McPherson

City Forest Credits Executive Director

Darren Morgan

Seattle Department of Transportation Manager

Walter Passmore

City of Palo Alto City Forester

Shannon Ramsay

Trees Forever Founding President and CEO

Heather Sage

Pittsburgh Park Conservancy Director of Community Projects

Misha Sarkovich

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Customer Solutions

Skip Swenson

Forterra Vice President Policy and Programming

Andy Trotter

West Coast Arborists Vice President of Field Operations

Validation and Verification

Independent assessment

Independent verification of carbon projects ensures the integrity and quality of voluntary greenhouse gas mitigation and removal programs. Third-party verifiers, also known as validation/verification bodies (VVBs), verify that carbon projects meet the rules and requirements in the protocols and that quantification is accurate. All VVBs must be qualified and approved.

Our urban forests are where most of us live, work and play—an essential public resource. I founded Trees Forever, a regional nonprofit based in Iowa over 30 years ago. I was excited by the US Forest Service research on developing a rigorous carbon protocol for urban forestry. I was honored to join the other drafting group members to develop a quality national standard for carbon crediting. Thanks to City Forest Credits for its leadership.

—Shannon Ramsay, Founding President and CEO
Trees Forever

Secure Credit Registry

Issuing and tracking carbon credits

We adhere to the industry standards for carbon registries. Our role is to approve projects, ensure they follow the protocols, and issue and track credits.

Credits are issued under a unique ID and serial number in a registry database. We issue ex-post credits to preservation projects that are preserving at-risk forested stands. With numerous safeguards, we issue ex-ante credits to planting projects that convert to ex-post credits after final quantification, validation, and verification. Learn more about the timing of credits here.

Initiate a Carbon Project

What you need to know to get started

Urban forest leaders never have enough money to grow and care for city trees. Carbon credits may provide a new source of revenue to fill the gaps. 

Location is key. Projects must be located in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Urban area per U.S. Census Bureau maps
  2. Incorporated or unincorporated city or town
  3. Planning area for a metropolitan planning agency or entity
  4. Municipally-owned watershed zones
  5. Transportation or utility rights of way

We provide overviews that describe details on eligibility, requirements, and project design recommendations.

Carbon Preservation Project Fact Sheet

Carbon Planting Project Fact Sheet

Carbon Planting Project Document Templates

Carbon Preservation Project Document Templates

CFC 2021 Carbon Fee Schedule

Explore Carbon Projects