In the United States, forests and trees offset 13% of emissions; with improved conservation, restoration and land management, that number could jump to 21%. In April 2021, the United States released an updated Nationally Determined Contribution that emphasized the role forests and urban trees play in meeting that goal by 2030. Local governments have unique policy tools available to implement tree-based climate strategies, yet over 90 percent of local climate action plans fail to address trees and forests. Reasons for this shortcoming include lack of access to monitoring data, uncertainty around how to incorporate trees and forests in greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, and political and technical challenges associated with being an “early mover” in this space.
# of cohort participants
# of cohort community participants
# of participants who completed a forest & trees carbon inventory
Measured, quantitative outcomes / project impact
ICLEI USA streamlined the GHG estimation process to facilitate wider uptake and adoption of the protocol by more communities. This was achieved through administering a series of virtual webinar trainings to more than 20 communities that walked step-by-step through how to compile an inventory and the data required, followed by individual sessions with each community to answer specific questions. We brought together geospatially explicit activity data and emission and removal factors into an online web application, called LEARN. This tool enables any community across the U.S., with a few clicks, to view maps and generate first-order estimates of carbon emissions and removals associated with forests and trees in their communities over a selected inventory period, even if they do not have their own local data. We also worked with the communities to interpret the information and suggested ways that they could use the data to inform their climate action plans.