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Review of Forestry Carbon Standards 2009

Source:  Copyright 2009, Carbon Positive
Date:  October 28, 2009
Original URL: Status DEAD

This 92-page report is the thesis of Master of Science student Paulo Lopes in the Centre of Environment Policy at Imperial College London, released in September 2009. The author’s aim is to provide a tool for voluntary carbon credit buyers to identify the most appropriate forestry carbon credit for their purposes.

The report adds to a useful body of work now available comparing and analysing the sometimes confusing array of third-party standards that have merged to deliver credibility to the forest carbon market over the past few years.

The review considers ten different carbon standards and assesses seven in detail. The standards are compared on the basis of their:

range of forest project types covered

geographic coverage and acceptance

flexibility of methodology requirements

carbon credit registry solutions

as well the rigour the standard applies to the various project tests of:





non-carbon benefits

The essence of the analysis is a scoring system which rates the standards on the above criteria. The Voluntary Carbon Standard scores highest across all 12 criteria tested while CarbonFix scores the highest across a smaller group of criteria deemed essential.

The scores provide only a broad and elementary comparison because, as the author acknowledges, there are no weightings given to the criteria, leading to somewhat arbitrary results. This makes it difficult for carbon credit buyers to use this report to make the appropriate decision, but does provide a handy starting point. Likewise, for project developers in selecting the most appropriate standard by which to verify the carbon and other benefits of an individual project.

After assessing the standards, the author proposes a theoretical meta-standard by identifying the best tools and approaches drawn from all the standards. This provides a valuable starting point for identifying best practice in the standards field.

For those just entering the market on either the buying or selling side, the report also gives an outline of the emissions trading markets around the world currently in operation, describes the forest carbon market and summarises the issues facing its development worldwide, such as REDD, a future US market, indigenous rights.


“Lopes, Paulo (2009) “Review of Forestry Carbon Standards – Development of a tool for organizations to identify forestry carbon credits”. Imperial College London, Centre for Environmental Policy.

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