Forest & Trees Carbon Accounting Training Cohort

Most Community-wide inventories include the basic emissions for daily life such as energy usage, transportation and waste, excluding Forestry. The LEARN tool is a newly developed ICLEI USA tool that aids communities with accounting for Forestry emissions and sequestration. The LEARN Tool will provide communities with emissions and sequestration totals that can be added to the ClearPath tool to complete an inventory.    

ICLEI USA’s 2021 Forests & Trees Carbon Accounting Cohort Training Session is a 6-month structured technical assistance program to guide communities in the application of the Forestry Protocol, an appendix to the U.S. Community Protocol for GHG Emission Inventories.  Kicking off July 2021, ICLEI USA staff will assist up to 10 communities in the process of assessing the emissions and removals of carbon through forestry and urban tree management. At the conclusion of the cohort session, participating communities will have a key element of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use (AFOLU) sector of their community-wide GHG inventory. Applicants should have access to spatial data for forested lands and/or a tree inventory for urban trees.  If that data is not available, applicants will be able to use the LEARN tool to gather approximate emissions and removals.

At a Glance

Open To:

ICLEI Members

# Participants:



Jul 2021 through De 2021


400 - Advanced




Low Emissions, Nature-Based, Circular


ICLEI estimates the value of this instruction at $15,000 per community: 12 hours of group instruction, 6 hours of individual support, access to tools and peer network, and recognition.


Communities must have ClearPath Community-scale GHG inventory developed within the past three years.

Who Will Participate

Up to 10 ICLEI member local governments with an interest to include forest and tree carbon storage into their GHG inventories and climate planning. Although useful for cities and towns, this session will be most tailored to county-level and regional governments with GIS capabilities and some land-use data. We recommend that communities have one focal point who can attend each session and serve as the coordinator of the effort. This may be a staff person within the community government, or someone appointed by the community to be the coordinator (e.g. a local NGO, university staff or graduate student). In addition to the focal point, there may be others within the community that could provide support to the effort. For example, policymakers may wish to attend the first session — which explains the basics about forests and climate change, and the role of a forest and tree GHG inventory to inform climate action. The “activity data” sessions may be attended by a GIS analyst, if the community wishes to develop a tailor-made inventory (versus using default maps that may be accessed). A local forester may be helpful for the session on ‘emission and removal factors’.

Effort Level

This training is a step-by-step approach to building the forest & tree GHG inventory. For each session, we have indicated expected “homework” to be completed prior to the start of the next session, as well as the skills necessary to complete the assignment. Each training will be 90 minutes, held every other week. Homework will be assigned for each session and is expected to take a half to one day minimum (to achieve a basic GHG inventory for forests and trees). If a community wishes to create a more complex or detailed GHG inventory that provides more data and information, they may optionally do so (which would entail more extensive work and time).


Exact dates TBD.

July 2021 – December 2021.

Session 1: Overview of the Forestry Appendix to the USCP & the LEARN Tool

Learn how carbon cycles in forests influence emissions and removals. Define the data needed to inspect land use change and how to use ICLEI USA’s new LEARN Tool

Session 2: Forest Activity Data

Develop a Land Use Change Matrix and start conditioning your data using Spatial Analysis or a Tree Inventory

Session 3: Trees Outside of Forests Activity Data

In many communities, trees are also present in non-forest areas, such as urban trees and trees growing on farms. While changes to the tree canopy outside forests don’t lead to a land use change, they can contribute significantly to the community’s GHG inventory.

Session 4: Forest Disturbances

This session examines the extent to which disturbances have been impacting forests in the inventory area, including deforestation, wildfire, insects, weather, and timber harvesting. The impact of these disturbances is highly variable at the local scale, so it is important to understand and quantify their extent and severity for assessing the overall carbon balance of forests in the inventory area.

Session 5: Forest Emission and Removal Factors

Both emission and removal factors are variables that depend on forest type, forest age, ecosystem carbon stock, and management intensity — these variables are used to stratify the area and improve local estimates.

Session 6: Emissions and Removal Factors from Trees Outside of Forests

Trees outside forests have some different characteristics than trees on forest land, and the sources of data are different.

Intersessional one-on-one check-ins

For 4 weeks, we will conduct calls with each community, answering questions and checking (or trouble-shooting) the calculations made to date for the inventory.

Session 7: Reporting and Interpreting Results

We will walk through the final reporting template and summary tables, discuss what each graph is showing, how it can be interpreted, and answer questions.We will also make recommendations on developing a presentation for the data and documenting the process (for future inventory compilers).

Session 8: Wrapup: Sharing Results and What it All Means

In this final session, we will help communities put the figures they generated into a broader context of climate action and put communits in groups to discuss their experience conducting a forestry inventory.

Wrapup: Communications, Celebrating, and Reporting Results

– Project wrap up, communication, celebrating the community participants, and reporting results
– Additional check-ins as needed


Contact your ICLEI Technical Advisor or email