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Forest and Land Use Appendix


Start: 2019
End: 2019
Client or funder: Doris Duke Foundation & Climate and Land use Alliance
Collaborators: Climate and Land Use Alliance World Resource Institute Woodwell Climate Research Center


In 2019, ICLEI conducted a study where 60 percent of U.S. community respondents did not include forests or trees in their greenhouse gas inventories due to a lack of guidance on how to do so. To solve this problem, ICLEI developed the Forest and Land Use Appendix to ICLEI’s U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions in partnership with the Woodwell Climate Research Center and World Resource Institute (WRI), and funded by Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Project Partners

Climate and Land Use Alliance
World Resource Institute
Woods Hole Research Center

Project Activity

ICLEI USA developed a new protocol that enables U.S. cities and counties to include forests and trees within their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounting, a key activity to ensure representation of local forestry and land use considerations in climate action planning. The protocol was piloted in Montgomery County, MD; Los Angeles County, CA; and Whatcom County; WA; representing the dramatic spectrum of climate and land cover across the country. The protocol provides, for the first time, guidance to U.S. communities for estimating the GHG emissions and removals from forests. The Appendix also considers “trees outside forests,” including urban trees and trees in croplands, which are often overlooked in national assessments.

Later, ICLEI developed the free Land Emissions and Removals Navigator (LEARN) tool to help local governments implement this protocol.


3 pilot GHG inventories using the new protocol.

In addition to developing the new protocol, ICLEI USA has revised its ClearPath GHG emissions management software tool with new calculators that will allow communities to develop GHG inventories with land use in mind from the outset. ICLEI is encouraging its member communities to use the new guidance to consider how forests and trees can be integrated into climate action plans.

Those Involved

Los Angeles County, CA
Montgomery County, MD
Whatcom County, WA

“Montgomery County jumped at the opportunity to explore the sequestration benefits associated with trees and forests,” said Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County, Maryland. “Given our aggressive GHG reduction goals of 80 percent by 2027 and carbon neutrality by 2035, increased sequestration must be in the mix of strategies we employ. The new protocol also has prompted us to think more deeply about natural climate solutions ranging from reducing the heat-island effect to increasing sequestration in the agricultural sector.” – <b. Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County, MD