The afforestation projects of the Community Environmental Restoration Program (CERP) restore damaged alluvial forests in the Lower Fraser Valley in the southwest of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The original CO2 storage capacity of the forests is being restored and the once existing biodiversity is approximated once again. Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc., developers and partners of the Forest Carbon Group in Vancouver, build and manage projects based in five communities.
The alluvial forests were cleared decades ago largely for economic reasons and then left to themselves. Soon, fast-growing and short-lived tree species settled the area (so-called pioneer species). Once they age and die, they are often replaced by scrub vegetation and bushes. These stubborn brush plants soon come to dominate the entire area. In comparison to the once prevailing forests, they have a much lower capacity to bind CO2 into their biomass. The CERP projects therefore aim to afforest the area with the originally predominant temperate coastal rainforests.
1.245 hectares of degraded alluvial forests were restored as a result of CERP projects in British Columbia by the end of 2011. The afforestation projects are reviewed by independent experts and certified in accordance with ISO 14064-2 and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB Standard). CERP projects have even exceeded this standard and thus were the first in Canada to achieve "Gold level" - an award for projects that meet additional quality criteria (e.g. planting native species) exceeding the requirements of the CCBS.
Aided by scientific sound calculation methods and forestry techniques, CERP projects are natural and reliable CO2 sinks - with a project duration of 100 years. CERP projects make a significant contribution to environmental and climate protection: In addition to the long-term storage of harmful CO2, river banks are stabilised, soil erosion is reduced and the quality of fish biotopes is improved. The restored forest sites also provide a habitat for an increased number of animal and plant species. Risks such as fires, wind damage, flooding or plagues of insects are low due to the peri-urban diversified nature of the project areas. Planting different, locally occurring tree species also serves to reduce the risk of pest infestations.
Social and economic benefits
Participating communities and key special interest groups are consulted during planning and involved in the implementation of all CERP projects. Afforestation aesthetically upvalues the landscape of urban and suburban parks and green spaces and upgrades green leisure zones for the local residents.