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Forest Carbon Program

Benefits of forest carbon projects and overview of King County Forest Carbon Program.

The Forest Carbon Program supports land conservation, new parks, and greenspaces.

Carbon credits are being produced by permanently protecting threatened forests and tree canopy within King County. Lands targeted for carbon credit financing are among the most critical conservation priorities of the region – identified through the collaborative Land Conservation Initiative. This Initiative brings together the voices of concerned citizens, community groups, environmental and social justice non-profits, business leaders, scientists, philanthropists, city governments, and King County.

Evergreen tree artwork with message: King County's Forest Carbon Program is a component of the region's Land Conservation Initiative, which aims to protect existing tree canopy and natural areas, and provide more public parks, biking and walking trails, and open spaces - in the heart of the metro area that your business calls home.
Young child in a raincoat standing in the woods, displaying message: The Forest Carbon Program protects our tree canopy, which provides benefits to people and wildlife.

Carbon + co-benefits for our communities and & our environment

  • A cleaner urban environment: Forest carbon projects in and around our cities will improve urban air quality, reduce stormwater runoff, and enhance water quality in our rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound.
  • Protecting tree canopy and green spaces: The Puget Sound region is growing rapidly, making land conservation and forest protection an unusually urgent effort. Without a dramatic acceleration of conservation work alongside development, we will lose forever much of what makes this region beautiful, ecologically healthy, and livable forever.
  • Sustaining salmon and wildlife: Forest carbon projects in King County protect critical salmon habitat and preserve corridors for our remaining elk, bears, and other wildlife in an increasingly fragmented, paved-over landscape.
  • Healthy communities: Carbon financing of land acquisition for new public park sites will help the Land Conservation Initiative provide our communities with the diverse physical and mental health benefits of greenspace. The Initiative aims to improve our communities’ access to spaces to gather, relieve stress, and relax – and spaces where our children can play and learn outdoors.
Freeway interchange with dense forest looking into the distance.
Public greenspaces and trails are increasingly important for quality of life in our rapidly growing region.
Kids on a trail through a forest.
A public space to relax, explore, exercise, and play — protected by King County’s purchase of the land.

King County Urban and Rural Forest Carbon Credits

All carbon credits King County offers are independently verified, by a third party, to rigorous standards. The urban forest carbon credits, which are inherently low volume but high value, are a powerful new tool for investing in communities and climate benefits simultaneously. King County is working with City Forest Credits (CFC), a Seattle-based non-profit registry that developed an innovative protocol for preservation of forest canopy within and around U.S. cities – where carbon finance had not previously been feasible. The rural forest carbon credits are produced from the protection of larger forested areas in King County through a project under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a well-established, voluntary protocol that is used for most forest carbon projects globally.

Urban credits

The initial project was verified in 2018 by CFC, producing 3,025 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e) of verified and registered credits, while also producing local community and environmental co-benefits. All project documents are available through CFC. All of the credits were purchased, with most sales going to local companies.

Illustration of buildings, people and natural features with the message, Keeping carbon in forests is critical to confronting climate change. Offering local companies the option to offset their carbon emissions right here also protects our forests - and makes it possible for all of us to enjoy the forests in our communities.

Rural credits

The King County Rural Forest Carbon Project was validated in September 2020 by VCS, producing 26,317 mtCO2e of verified and registered credits. The sale of the first batch of credits was completed in November 2020. King County completed the second verification in June 2022, producing 37,375 mtCO2e of registered credits. The third verification is expected to be completed in 2024. All project documents are available through Verra.