Guidelines for the Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting, Verification, and Certification of Forestry Projects for Climate Change Mitigation
Because of concerns with the growing threat of global climate change from increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the United States and other countries are implementing, by themselves or in cooperation with one or more other nations, climate change mitigation projects. These projects will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or sequester carbon, and may also result in non-GHG benefits and costs (i.e., other environmental and socioeconomic benefits and costs). Monitoring, evaluating, reporting, verifying, and certifying (MERVC) guidelines are needed for these projects in order to accurately determine their impact on GHG and other attributes. Implementation of standardized guidelines is also intended to: (1) increase the reliability of data for estimating GHG benefits; (2) provide real-time data so that programs and plans can be revised mid-course; (3) introduce consistency and transparency across project types and reporters; (4) enhance the credibility of the projects with stakeholders; (5) reduce costs by providing an international, industry consensus approach and methodologies; and (6) reduce financing costs, allowing project bundling and pooled project financing. These guidelines cover the following items: (1) a description of three methods (modeling, remote sensing, and field/site measurement) for evaluating changes in the carbon stock; (2) an explanation of key issues influencing the establishment of a credible baseline (free riders) and the calculation of changes to the carbon stock (project leakage, positive project spillover, and market transformation); (3) a process for verifying and certifying project impacts, based on an interpretation of the Kyoto Protocol; (4) a discussion of the importance and value of including environmental and socioeconomic impacts in the evaluation of forestry projects; (5) reporting forms for estimation of changes in carbon stock (Appendix A), for monitoring and evaluation of these changes (Appendix B), and for verification (Appendix C); and (6) Quality Assurance Guidelines that require evaluators and verifiers to indicate specifically how key methodological issues are addressed. The next phase of this work will be to develop a procedural handbook providing information on how one can complete the monitoring, evaluation and verification forms contained in this report. Next, we plan to test the usefulness of these guidelines in the real world.