Washington Recreation & Park Association recognizes City’s innovative use of carbon credits to restore Ballinger Open Space
The Washington Recreation & Park Association (WRPA) recently awarded Shoreline its 2019 Spotlight Award for Environmental Stewardship for our innovative use of carbon credits to fund environmental restoration at Ballinger Open Space. Through this program, we will be able to remove 3-acres of invasive plants from Ballinger Open Space and replace them with 2,000 native trees (1,000 conifers and large trees, and 1,000 smaller trees) at minimal cost to the City.
What distinguishes this project from other restoration projects is the innovative way it is being funded. The innovation is that the trees we plant will earn marketable carbon credits. These credits can be sold to local or national companies. We are generating new, private-sector funding to help keep our cities green, healthy and equitable. Shoreline partnered with Mountains-to-Sound Greenway Trust, American Forests and its corporate partner Bank of America, and City Forest Credits to launch the pilot project.
The restoration of Ballinger Open Space is a long-term project. Its success will be judged several generations from now. This was first time each of the parties involved had participated in a project like this, so it required new types of agreements to be developed, go through legal review, and gain approval. Bank of America provided $50,000 in initial funding for the project. The important element is a commitment to maintain the trees for a 25-year period to ensure the carbon credit requirements are met. Maintenance will include annual surveys, weed removal, and replacement plantings and will be led by MTS Greenway Trust.
To develop the credits, benefits from the restoration and maintenance needed to be quantified. Ballinger Open Space is projected to deliver the following quantified benefits over the next fifty years:
- Storage of up to 1,000 metric tons of CO2
- Reduction of over 62 million liters of storm water (rainfall interception), at a savings of approximately $455,000
- Energy savings (heating and cooling) of $73,000
- Improvements in air quality valued at over $5,000
- Total dollar benefits over 50 years valued at $533,000
However, in addition to the quantifiable benefits of this project, the improvements to Ballinger Open Space will create a healthy, urban forest for future generations of Shoreline residents to enjoy.