Standard Development


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The Natural Forest Standard originated through identifying an opportunity to provide project developers with a practical yet credible voluntary carbon standard for the efficient delivery of verifiable emissions reductions from medium to large-scale REDD projects, which also protect natural capital and deliver co-benefits to the communities within them.

With this as the key focus, the NFS aims to provide an efficient and effective mechanism for crediting the carbon and ecosystem benefits resulting from avoided deforestation and degradation of large scale natural forest projects.

Core principles of the Natural Forest Standard

  • Generate real, measurable, permanent, additional and independently verifiable emissions reductions.
  • Provide a credible, transparent, and responsive certification scheme that is accessible for project developers and verifiers alike.
  • Ensure additional co-benefits are delivered to local communities and ecosystems as fundamental project requirements.
  • Encourage the input and involvement of industry stakeholders in the initial and on-going development of the Standard, and for its maintenance and improvement.
  • Develop a clear risk-based methodology for projects that will generate credible and conservative baseline scenario estimates.

Initial development of the Natural Forest Standard

To focus the purpose and aims of the standard, and to ensure the specific nature of the standard was correctly positioned, a review of existing standards, initiatives and literature was conducted.  This included gaining insightful indicators from studies such as that of Merger et al (2011) and Walter and Kalhert (2010), plus drawing upon the work of:

  • American Carbon Registry Forest Carbon Project Standard v2.1 (ACR)
  • Carbon Fix Standard v3.1 (CFX)
  • Climate Action Reserve Forest Project Protocol Version 3.2 (CAR)
  • Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standards v2.0 (CCB)
  • Global Conservation Standard v1.2 (GCS)
  • Plan Vivo Standard 2008 (PVS)
  • Verified Carbon Standard v3.0
  • Agriculture, Forestry and other Land Use (AFOLU) Requirements v3.0 (VCS)
  • Social Carbon Standard v4.2 (SCS)
  • REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards v1 (SES)

A number of key requirements were identified during the review, and used to develop an approach that addresses the requirements of REDD+ projects that is comprehensively inclusive of emissions reductions, livelihood benefits and ecosystem protection.

Who has developed the Natural Forest Standard?

The Natural Forest Standard (NFS) has been developed by the UK-based not for profit organisation Ecosystem Certification Organisation (ECO), in conjunction with Ecometrica, an independent Edinburgh-based company providing scientific analytical services and expertise in greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, ecosystem services, standard development and climate change policy.

ECO and the Ecometrica team have worked together developing the Standard to combine the scientific and technical robustness together with providing project developers with a practical, efficient and effective mechanism that is accessible yet rigorous.

Independent expert reviewers were also enlisted to provide feedback and input for the initial development stages of the Standard, to gain technical and practical guidance on the appropriateness and practicality of the Standard.

ECO will continue to maintain and improve the Natural Forest Standard over time through consultation with industry stakeholders such as project developers, public bodies, NGO’s, experts and other interest parties, with the initial Public Consultation period running until 31st October 2012.  For more information about this, please see the Public Consultation page.

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