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Forest & Trees Carbon Accounting 2020 Training Cohort

Updated April 9, 2020

ICLEI USA’s 2020 Forests & Trees Carbon Accounting Cohort Training Session is a 6-month structured technical assistance program to guide communities in the application of the newly released appendix to the U.S. Community Protocol for GHG Emissons Inventories.  Kicking off September 2020, ICLEI USA staff, with guest forestry experts from Woods Hole Research Center and World Resources Institute, will assist up to 20 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 should have a reasonable way to obtain those data prior to September 2020. ICLEI staff will facilitate data reqeusts in the leadup.

Session Dates
September 2020 through February 2021 [Exact dates TBC]

Who is this training session for?

Up to 20 ICLEI member local governments interested in brining 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” session 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’. We have identified, for each session below, some recommendations on potential participants from your community that may find particular sessions of highest interest, noting that we suggest in places a GIS analyst or forester, but these are not needed to complete the inventory.

What level of effort is expected?

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).

Pre-Session:  Data collection and Setting the Context. This should occur prior to the start of the training sessions in September. We will ask communities to determine their data availability, and share the data with the training staff in order that we may review your data prior to the start of the training.  We will also ask communities to collect data on their existing GHG inventory (for other sectors), climate mitigation targets, and existing forest and tree related policies to help set the context for a forest & tree GHG inventory.


Contact your ICLEI Technical Advisor or email

Session Schedule

September 2020 – February 2021. Final dates TBC

Pre-Session [prior to September 2020]:  Determining your communities data availability and ability to complete an inventory.

Session 1: Overview of the Forestry Appendix to the USCP & Experience of Pilot Counties (Week of September 14)
Learn how carbon cycles in forests to influence emissions and removals. Define the data needs to inspect land use change, and learn from the experiences of the three pilot communities who completed their forest carbon accounting exercises in 2019.

Session 2: Data Collection using Spatial Analysis or a Tree Inventory (Week of September 28)
Develop a Land Use Change Matrix and start conditioning your data.

Session 3: Forest Disturbances (Week of October 12)
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 4: Forest Emission and Removal Factors (Week of October 26)
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 5: Activity Data Continued: Trees Outside of Forests (Week of November 9)
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 6: Emissions and Removal Factors from Trees Outside of Forests (Week of November 30)
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 (Month of December)
During these 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 (Week of January 11)
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 (Week of January 25)
In this final session, we will help communities put the figures they generated into a broader context of climate action.

Wrapup: Communications, Celebrating, and Reporting Results (Month of February 2021)
Project wrap up, communication, celebrating the community participants, and reporting results