GreenTrees: Going The Extra Mile

Gloria Gonzalez

Forest carbon projects sold to voluntary buyers were challenged in 2013 by stiff competition from cheaper offsets flooding the market. Chandler Van Voorhis, Managing Partner of project developer GreenTrees, thinks this is a short-term trend, but forest carbon project developers must still do a better job of selling the attractive attributes of their projects.


5 June 2014 | Project developer GreenTrees has been riding the rails: partnering with Norfolk Southern – through its Trees and Trains reforestation and carbon sequestration project – to plant six million trees in the Mississippi Delta over five years, generating more than one million tonnes of carbon offsets to help offset the railroad’s emissions and restore habitat along its lines.

But GreenTrees knows these types of reforestation projects have plenty of assets that go beyond carbon and has also been hard at work collecting data to use in establishing baselines that help capture the connection between water and carbon in forestry projects and calculate the additional value that co-benefits bring. Highlighting the additional benefits of reforestation projects is critical in light of the fierce competition in the voluntary carbon offset market in 2013, as buyers had their pick of cheaper offsets from other project types. But there are buyers such as Norfolk Southern out there who are more interested in offset projects that can tell a bigger and better story than just reducing carbon.

Ahead of the June 24  release of Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report (Executive Summary available here), Chandler Van Voorhis, Managing Partner of project developer GreenTrees, told Gloria Gonzalez about the work that forest carbon project developers are and should be doing to promote other attributes of their projects and why they shouldn’t even try to compete on pricing with landfill methane and other types of carbon offsets.

Gloria Gonzalez: What did you see in the voluntary carbon markets in 2013?

Chandler Van Voorhis: I thought it showed a lot of life and was very robust during the first eight months of the year. In the fourth quarter, it got really quiet in the market and it has been quiet. I’m not necessarily sure what to attribute that to. The one thing we did speculate was that there’s been a flood of (landfill) methane credits that have come on the market. I think it’s put a lot of downward price pressure in general in the market. There are those that are trying to hit a (corporate social responsibility) CSR mandate and they don’t care what the credits look like. Then there are those that go above and beyond just buying the credit. Right now, until all this landfill methane kind of works itself out of the system, I think that’s the number one thing we can point to.

To read the rest of this Q&A, please visit the Forest Carbon Portal for free.

Gloria Gonzalez is a Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About this Series

This part of an ongoing series of interviews with market participants culled from our research into this year’s “State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets” report, which will be launched on May 28 at Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany. Click below for others in the series

Chevrolet: Driving in the Voluntary Carbon Market’s Fast Lane Chevrolet remains one of the leading buyers of carbon offsets in the voluntary market as it closes in on a commitment to reduce its emissions by up to eight million tonnes of carbon. But David Tulauskas, director of sustainability for General Motors (GM), Chevrolet’s parent company, says the road does not end there.

CarbonFund Foundation:
Seeing A Yellow Light For Forest Conservation Projects

The market for forest carbon offsets was challenged to say the least in 2013, with some developers forced to unload offsets at less-than-ideal prices. But Brian McFarland, Director of Carbon Projects and Origination for Bethesda, Maryland-based, believes there is some reason for optimism, particularly if a compliance market such as California’s carbon system steps up to the plate.

The BioCarbon Group: Playing both sides The BioCarbon Group is a major investor in cookstove and forestry emissions reduction projects for both the voluntary and regulated carbon markets in Europe and North America. Jason Patrick, Investment Director for the BioCarbon Group, talked with Gloria Gonzalez about a recent evolution in the corporate social responsibility world and its impact on the voluntary carbon markets.

Environmental Credit Corp: California, Here We Come! Environmental Credit Corp (ECC) was busy in 2013 developing emissions reduction projects that received a total of more than one million tonnes from California’s regulated carbon market. But Derek Six, ECC’s CEO/CFO, spoke to Gloria Gonzalez about growing interest in a new charismatic project type that could be added to California’s program in the future.

EcoPlanet Bamboo: Thinking Long-Term EcoPlanet Bamboo yesterday announced that its Nicaragua bamboo projects successfully verified their first carbon offsets. These projects are expected to reduce 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2e) over their 20-year lifetime. This milestone came after a patient process of navigating the voluntary carbon markets and – as Troy Wiseman explains in the interview below – is part of the company’s truly long-term vision for triple bottom line profitability.