Forestry Carbon Offsetting: Tree Planting to Offset Emissions for Companies Going Carbon Neutral

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Most Popular Types | February 7, 2024

8 Billion Trees graphic image displaying the impact humans have had since 1970 with dozens of outlines of animals showing humans have wiped out 60 percent of animal life and only the 40 percent remain highlighted in green

Every day, the trees around us are doing something amazing that humans are only just now starting to figure out: They’re living climate positive.

By absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere (one of the most dangerous greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), trees and forests play a vital role in managing Earth’s delicate carbon cycle by (in some cases) establishing “carbon sinks,” which are areas that gather and store carbon dioxide (CO2). The ocean is a gigantic carbon sink, but so are plants, especially trees. So by planting more trees and protecting existing forests, it directly and meaningfully decreases the concentration of CO2 in the air.

In other words, we’re giving our planet (and ourselves) a fighting chance of staving off the effects of climate change by going carbon positive with forestry offsets.

This guide explains the concept of going climate positive with the help of carbon offsets through various forestry projects. It also provides some information on reforestation programs and the types of organizations that plant trees.

Natural Climate Solutions: Planting Trees to Offset Carbon Footprints

One of the most interesting facts about carbon dioxide (CO2) is that it is one of the most important elements of the universe, but too much is a threat.

That’s because CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, generated by human activity, are simply too much for the planet to process, and the concentration levels are out of control. These gasses trap heat, and the more GHG in the atmosphere, the hotter it can get. Studies suggest that after a while, the planet will enter a ‘runaway greenhouse’ phase, when it can no longer cool itself using natural, biological mechanisms.

Here’s the key: trees absorb CO2. In fact, like all plants, they love it. So planting more trees means less CO2 in the atmosphere.

Because many carbon offset programs are directly involved with reforestation efforts, rainforest conservation, or forest management, buying carbon offsets is an effective way to combat climate change in a meaningful way,

Reducing Your Carbon Offset: The Basics
  • Interested in reducing your carbon offset through offsets and forestry programs? Here are the three basic steps:
  • Understand & Measure – First, take the time to truly understand how much carbon pollution you generate each day, month, or year. You can use online tools to calculate your carbon footprint, or you can learn all about carbon offsets at the American Carbon Registry.
  • Reduce & Offset – Once you know your carbon footprint, you can find ways to reduce it. Use less electricity, ride your bike to work, or eat less meat. Or, you can purchase a carbon offset to directly and effectively “balance out” your life’s GHG emissions.
  • Share & Inspire – If we’re going to save the planet, it’s going to take everybody. Once you choose to live a climate-positive lifestyle, make sure that the people around you understand why and how you’re doing it, so that they can start living climate-positive as well.

Ways that Forestry Projects Fight Climate Change and Support Sequestering Carbon

There’s no question that planting trees to stop climate change has become more popular in recent years. That’s because the act of planting a tree is a tangible, meaningful thing that consumers and companies alike can embrace. Grade school science teaches us that plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through their respiration process. So, it makes sense that planting more trees will help eliminate the excess carbon in the atmosphere.

But tree planting isn’t the only forest-carbon project that works to offset carbon emissions. The best carbon offset providers operate diverse programs, with a holistic view on what our planet’s forests need to thrive and survive. Here’s what we’re talking about:

Supporting CommuniTrees Through Reforestation projects

While planting trees in your backyard is always a good thing, it’s the global tree-planting initiatives that have the most impact. This is particularly true of countries like Peru, Ecuador, Madagascar, Colombia and others where rampant deforestation has been the most severe.

When reforestation grants or tree-planting initiatives like 8 Billion Trees begin work in a new area, they create job opportunities for local communities. At the same time, they also teach these communities how to manage their forest resources for the long term.

Avoided Deforestation

Carbon credit programs and carbon offsets can also support Avoided Deforestation, which has the same amazing impact as planting a bunch of new trees. With avoided deforestation, carbon offset funds are used to preserve forest resources, which have been slated for destruction. This keeps the CO2 stored safely inside, and can therefore be considered a carbon-negative purchase.

Improved Forest Management (IFM)

When a forest is properly managed, it can live a lot longer and remain a whole lot healthier in the process (essentially keeping its stored carbon where it belongs). Improved Forest Management extends the life of forest resources, keeping the planet’s natural carbon cycles working properly. IFM programs also help protect biodiversity, which is a key part of a comprehensive solution to climate change.

Carbon Footprint Calculator: For the Environmentally Conscious

Asking yourself, how do I reduce my carbon footprint? Click here to visit the carbon footprint calculator, and follow the links to buy high-quality carbon offsets to make your lifestyle more climate positive.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Plant a Tree?

Not as much as you would think! In fact, you can plant 10 trees for only $20.00, and support the preservation of 100 existing trees at the same time.

Q: Can I Use the Carbon Footprint Calculator for My Kids?

A: Visiting the carbon footprint calculator with your little ones is a great way to teach them about the concept of a climate-positive lifestyle. The calculator is simple and easy to use, so kids will be able to follow along with no problem.

Q: Aren’t the Governments Doing Anything About GHG Reductions?

A: More and more national, state, and local governments around the globe are meeting the threat of climate change with targeted GHG reduction initiatives. Examples include the Compliance Offset Protocol (ARB Offset Protocol), which uses California carbon offset funds to finance reforestation projects in the United States.

Did You Know Forestry Projects Can Save Wildlife & Eliminate CO2 at the Same Time?

When you donate to plant a tree, or when you purchase a forestry carbon offset, you’re doing the planet a favor by bringing your carbon footprint down, but forests do a lot more than just store CO2. Healthy forests mean healthy wildlife, and this biodiversity is critical in keeping natural ecosystems alive.

Some carbon offsets can directly support this kind of wildlife protection. One good example is the 8 Billion Trees’ Partnership with Wildlife Conservation Center CEFAU in the Brazilian states of Tocantins and Para. So, now that you know all about how forestry offsets work, we hope you’ll be inspired to plant trees wherever you can and go carbon positive through offset solutions!