Berea College Forest Begins First Carbon Offset Project; Links With New Forests for California Carbon Market

Forest view fromBig Hill Photo Credit Kay Jordan
Forest view fromBig Hill Photo Credit Kay Jordan

Demonstrating Berea College’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, Berea College and New Forests announced today the successful listing of the Berea College Forest Carbon Project with California’s Climate Action Reserve Program. Through the Berea College Improved Forest Management Project, carbon offset credits can be used for compliance in the Air Resources Board of California’s greenhouse gas cap and trade program.

The project encompasses the College’s Oak-Hickory and Oak-Pine forest near Berea, Kentucky. By registering the Improved Forest Management project and selling carbon offsets in the California cap and trade system, Berea College will make a commitment to maintain current forest carbon stocks and manage the forest for both increased carbon sequestration and sustainable timber production. The project will have the combined benefit of generating significant revenue for Berea College and assisting in the protection of the College’s forest for future generations. It will also serve as an example of an environmentally-friendly alternative revenue stream that other Appalachian forest owners can investigate for their own property.

Through its Forest Carbon Partners, L.P. investment fund, forestry investment manager New Forests is providing offset project finance and managing all aspects of project development and offset credit sales for the project. The Berea College project is one of eleven forest carbon offset projects registered or currently under development by New Forests’ Forest Carbon Partners fund for the California carbon market.

“The Berea College Forest’s Carbon Project is an outstanding opportunity for Berea College to demonstrate our commitment to long term, sustainable forest management while showcasing our pioneering efforts in forestry,” says Clint Patterson, Berea College Forester. “The Carbon Project can be viewed as a ‘reward’ for Berea College’s long history of responsible forest management. It provides increased revenue while ensuring sustainable management far into the future.”

“I am so pleased that Berea is the first college in the country to engage in a ‘win-win’ project of this sort, an enterprise that enables us to bolster the resources available for our forestry activities while also making a long-term commitment to sustainable and environmentally favorable management activities,” says Lyle Roelofs, Berea College President. “This is the latest College initiative that advances sustainability, plain living and opportunity for Appalachia, all following from our Great Commitments.”

The Berea College forest includes 8,912 acres, of which approximately 8,300 acres are forest with the balance comprised of lakes, water plant area, fields, and roads. The College uses the land to offer classes and outreach programs related to forestry aspects such as wood, water, wildlife, and recreation. Berea’s forestry program, which began in the late 1800s, continues to serve as a resource for demonstrating the value of long term forest management in the Southern Appalachian Region.

The carbon offset project recognizes the importance of forests and human’s dependence on them to live. Worldwide, 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods, including food, clothing, or shelter. Forests also filter both water and air and provide habitats for nearly half of the world’s species.

Deforestation and forest destruction has become the second leading cause of carbon pollution, causing 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, if landowners can’t earn a living from forests, they often cut them down for farms or real estate development. Projects such as this encourage the efficient use of the forests to ensure economic viability and provide environmental benefits, such as supporting a viable carbon market that actually caps pollution.

“We are proud that Berea College chose to work with New Forests to finance, develop, and register their first forest carbon project,” said Brian Shillinglaw, Director, New Forests Inc. “New Forests has registered more projects than any other company under the California compliance forest carbon offset protocol.”

About Berea College

Berea, the South’s first interracial and coeducational college, focuses on learning, labor, and service. Berea admits academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. No student is charged tuition. All students must work at least 10 hours weekly, earning money for books, room and board. Graduates from Berea go on to distinguish themselves and the College in many fields, living out the College’s scriptural motto “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”

For more information about Berea College, visit: www.berea.edu

For more information about the history of the Berea College Forest, visit: http://www.berea.edu/forestry/history/

About Forest Carbon Partners and New Forests

Forest Carbon Partners, L.P. is a leading supplier of forest carbon offsets to the California cap and trade system. An investment vehicle managed by New Forests Inc. of San Francisco, Forest Carbon Partners offers forest carbon offset project finance and development services to private forest landowners nationwide. The fund manages all aspects of project evaluation, development, registration, and credit sales, delivering improved timberland revenue to landowners and a reliable supply of high-quality offsets to California compliance buyers. New Forests Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Forests Pty Limited of Sydney, Australia. The New Forests group (www.newforests.com.au) manages investments in sustainable forestry and associated environmental markets for institutional investors. The company has offices in Sydney, Singapore, and San Francisco and currently manages more than US$2 billion in funds and assets and over 1,500,000 acres of land in Australia, the United States and Asia.

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