The Nez Perce Tribe was one of the first Indian nations to explore and enter into the carbon market. In the 1990s, the Nez Perce Forestry and Fire Management Division began developing a carbon offset strategy to market carbon credits. Their first project was an afforestation project (planting trees on land that was not previously forested) on fee lands that had been acquired by the Tribe. The project began with a few hundred acres but has expanded to encompass thousands of acres in two different carbon offset project portfolios: one containing only afforestation projects and the other containing fire rehabilitation and forest development projects.
The Nez Perce Tribe is an affiliate of the National Carbon Offset Coalition (NCOC) and sells its carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange.
Follow the link for a narrative history of the Nez Perce Tribe's carbon sequestration program, lessons learned and helpful resources.
In 2013, the Yurok Tribe, located in Klamath, California, reached an agreement with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to preserve 7,660 acres of forested land. Under California's initative to restore CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, California established a cap-and-trade program for industries responsible for high amounts of CO2 emissions. As part of the program, along with decreasing emissions within the industry, companies may supplement 8% of their emissions with carbon credits from other sources. That's where the Yurok Tribe comes in.
What previously was tribally-owned timber land harvested every 50 years has now been set aside by tribal natural resource managers for preservation of old-growth forest. With the additional carbon sequestered, the tribe will be able to enter 704,520 offset credits into the California market. At about $9 per ton, the total revenue generated will come out to be several million dollars. The creation of the cap-and-trade policy in California has allowed the Yurok people to generate funds while promoting stewardship and restoring their lands to a quality unseen for generations.
In February 2015, Mendocino County, California, the Round Valley Indian Tribes successfully entered 5,550 acres of tribal trust land into the California carbon market. This was the first instance of tribal trust lands being used for carbon credits. Through the tribes' Improved Forest Management Project, tribal natural resource managers are improving sequestration of forested lands and implementing a sustainable timber harvest regimen. With these changes, the Round Valley Indian Tribes received over 540,000 offset credits from the California ARB. New Forests, a company that invests in sustainable forestry projects for carbon markets, helped to secure the agreement.
In October 2015, on the Fort Apache reservation in Arizona, the California ARB issued 4,451,645 carbon offset credits to the White Mountain Apache Tribe. This is the highest number of carbon credits the ARB has ever issued to a single project. In the tribe's Improved Forest Management Project, 89,000 acres of forested land has been designated for management that specifically targets carbon sequestration.
Information sources for this page:
"Many tribes have competent inventory and planning departments fully capable of determining carbon inventories and developing local management strategies to enhance carbon sequestration, but need a clear set of guidelines rather than the evolving array of registeries and associated standards currently used to qunatify carbon so that projects can be implemented with consistency and confidence."
Nez Perce Forestry and Fire Management Division