ACR Adds Precision to Evaluation of Baselines in Update to IFM Methodology



July 2, 2024

Changes enhance specificity and ensure baselines adapt to dynamic forces in forest management

In an update to its Improved Forest Management (IFM) on Non-Federal U.S. Forestlands methodology, ACR has increased the precision of its requirements for developing and evaluating conservative baseline scenarios. The methodology provides assurance of the climate impact of forest management practices across the full range of organizations using the ACR methodology, from investment management organizations to conservation NGOs.

The Methodology for the Quantification, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions and Removals from Improved Forest Management on Non-Federal U.S. Forestlands (Version 2.1) includes the following key updates:

  • A new tool for evaluating baselines each reporting period, before carbon credits are issued, to ensure the underlying assumptions remain valid over time.
  • A new baseline constraint, “Harvest Intensity,” that sets maximum baseline harvest levels based on one of three options: using a new tool for recently observed harvests on comparable properties, a qualified forest management plan, or a conservative removals-only baseline.
  • Greater specificity in existing requirements for baseline development related to the evaluation of legality, site accessibility and operability, regional timber market capacity, third-party approval (such as for lands with easements that may require approval from the easement holder for plans) and silvicultural practices.

“The updates to ACR’s Improved Forest Management methodology respond to market demands for rigorous and dynamic evaluation of project impact,” said Dr. Kurt Krapfl, Director of Forestry at ACR. “They further ensure emission reductions and removals reflect changes in timber market and forest management conditions over time.”

ACR’s IFM methodology is used by projects covering nearly 2.4 million acres of U.S. forestland. To date, nearly 24 million credits have been issued to projects using the methodology. Version 2.1 introduces innovative concepts, building on the success of earlier versions of the methodology. In the updates, ACR balanced demands for precision and market-relevant information with an understanding that project developers and investors require predictability to make investment decisions about voluntary, market-driven climate action. ACR plans to adapt the tools to broaden their applicability as an option for projects developed under other ACR methodologies and previous versions of this ACR IFM methodology.

With the updated methodology, ACR also introduced two new tools – ACR Improved Forest Management Methodologies Tool for Comparable Properties Analysis and ACR Improved Forest Management Methodologies Tool for Dynamic Evaluation of Baselines – that contribute to the precision of baseline scenario development and provide practical guidance on how to carry out the dynamic evaluations based on observed conditions.

The methodology update was authored by ACR with contributions from Anew Climate. The methodology was originally developed by Finite Carbon, and significantly expanded by Matt Delaney and David Ford of L&C Carbon and Greg Latta of University of Idaho. Additional version updates are attributed to Bluesource, L&C Carbon, TerraCarbon, and ACR.

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