Through 2027, we are accepting forest landowners in Central & Southern Appalachia into the Forest Management carbon project.

To receive a preliminary estimate, share a few details of your property with us in the application below.
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How it works

Fill out Forest Management Landowner Application, receive a Preliminary Estimate
Land Management and Data Review
Meet and discuss Final Estimate
Contract signing and project kick off
Forest Inventory and Verification
Annual payments begin

Our Service Area

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General Context
Every night trees absorb carbon dioxide through their leaves and the carbon is stored within the tree while the oxygen is released. Over the lifetime of a tree, the sustained ability of that tree to absorb carbon from the air becomes a significant source of carbon sequestered. This carbon is valuable to companies who have committed to reducing their green house gas emissions. By enrolling in the ACE forest carbon program, you are creating a commodity (sequestered carbon) that is valued on the marketplace, yet the trees remain under your care.
Companies that made a voluntary commitment to reduce their carbon emissions look to the carbon market to offset their greenhouse gas emissions that are hard to abate or have a longer threshold for reduction (such as those awaiting product or technology upgrades). Carbon accounting rules allow these companies to use verified carbon offsets to balance out their emission profile. Due to the voluntary nature of the marketplace and lack of policy based oversight, it is essential that you understand the integrity of the carbon offset program you are entering into.
Based in Chattanooga, TN, Appalachian Carbon Exchange (“ACE”) is a non-profit LLC wholly owned by the region’s largest land trust, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust (TRGT). Under a high-integrity aggregated methodology, ACE provides an important pathway to carbon markets by allowing landowners to pool their properties and drive down costs to development, long-term project operations, and maintenance through economies of scale.
TRGT has participated in the California compliance carbon market since 2012. In recent years, they watched the rules within that program continue to limit the participation of out-of-state offset projects. With a focus on local landowner communities and trust based relationships, TRGT sought to create a process they and others in the region could participate in. In due time, ACE was born. ACE maintains complete independence with separate accounting, staff, and board authority. ACE plans to become an independent 501©3 not-for-profit organization by 2025.
- Our relationships with our community of landowners are a priority for us; 
- Our project design requires on the ground measurement and verification; 
- We are fully transparent with the process, costs, design and outcomes of this project;
- We provide opportunities to meet other ACE landowners and buyers in person and virtually; 
- As the project proponent, ACE administers all project costs and long term maintenance for landowners; and
- We actively quantify the co-benefits of the forests we enroll, and will conduct research for monitoring these parameters (biodiversity, habitat corridors, recreation, water quality, erosion control, & more)
Requirements and Commitments of an ACE Landowner
The average acreage for ACE landowners is between 1,000 - 10,000 acres. This can be in one parcel or many. We remain flexible to enroll less or more than this acreage depending on variables disclosed in the application.
- Within Central or Southern Appalachia region (see map);
- Diverse Appalachian hardwood forests, no monocultures;
- No harvest activity within the last 10 years; and 
- Must retain all mineral, timber, and carbon title rights.
Not necessarily. Eligibility of forests with prior commercial harvest activity (beyond 10 years) depends on the amount of and time of harvest. The ACE team will need to assess your parcel before approving your eligibility. Please submit any documentation or known information as a part of your application.
Land enrolled in the carbon sequestration agreement must maintain the right to harvest timber. If the conservation easement restricts this right, then the parcel is not eligible to join. If the owners are interested in applying an easement, this can be completed after the carbon sequestration agreement is in place. If you have an easement that does not restrict silviculture or timber harvest, please include agreement as an attachment to your application.
By enrolling in the ACE program, the landowner is agreeing to accept payment for allowing the forest to grow and sequester carbon by restricting the harvest of their forests for 40 years. By agreeing to restrictive covenants on your property, you are selling a commodity - carbon. Unlike any other commodity, you remain the caretaker for this product after you have sold it. Under the ACE program, that means: 

- Agreeing to a 40 year harvest restriction commitment;
- Agreeing to encumber the land enrolled in the program with restrictive covenants until 2062;
- Providing property access to ACE staff, its contractors, and auditors, given sufficient notice;
- That any unenrolled land where harvesting is planned is certified (FSC, SCI, etc); and
- Provide annual attestations of forest conditions and any other harvesting activities. 
Forest Carbon Project Design
This project is designed under the American Carbon Registry’s Methodology for Improved Forest Management in Non-Federal U.S. Forestlands (Version 2.0; July 2022). This methodology accounts for the commitment of the landowner to reduce or eliminate the harvesting of timber, effectively avoiding deforestation and allowing trees to sequester carbon. ACE is using an aggregation model designed under the programmatic development approach under this methodology. 
This project provides smaller landowners with the ability to join a larger group of landowners and benefit more together from a cost sharing model. Each group is organized over a 12-18 month period and is called a cohort. Each cohort is modeled as one group together through the project proponent (ACE), which handles all administration and cost allocation for the duration of the project. ACE has successfully demonstrated this model through the registration and sale of its first cohort in 2022.
Additionality is one of the key terms tied to high integrity carbon projects. It means there is a high level of confidence that a project action exceeds those that would have occurred in the absence of the carbon market incentives. ACE landowners have been thoroughly vetted and are contractually obligated for a series of requirements that meet the standard for additionality, including: 

- There is no legal obligation to restrict harvest or change harvest activity (regulatory surplus test)
- Forest management changes and carbon modeling are based on regional timber market trends (common practice test)
- The barrier for implementing harvest restrictions are defined as economical, institutional, or technological (implementation barrier test)
Summarized from ACR’s Additionality and Baseline article 
This timeframe is aligned with scientific reports that specify the ability of agriculture, forestry and other land use management to meaningfully mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and reach net-zero by mid-century. This time span can exceed a family generation or beyond the planning of organizational strategy. The ACE project is designed for those landowners who want to make a meaningful impact to the climate problem by committing to change forest management practices that will define the next generation, without burdening their family or organization with the long-term maintenance of it.
The project start date was June 2022. We will continue to add cohorts to the project until June of 2027. We are currently accepting applications for Cohort 2. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Note that the sooner a landowner enters into the project, the more years they will have to benefit from the carbon offset transactions.
ACE will assess the level of possible tons generated depending on forest conditions reported by the landowner, and gleaned from spatial data assessment. Actual tons will be confirmed during forest inventory and verification.
These are the two separate products that are issued within the ACE project. Emission Reduction represents the value of the carbon that is in the current forest stocks, and you are being paid for committing to keeping this carbon (timber) on the property. This is modeled over 5 years because that is roughly the amount of time needed to cut, mill and market the timber. Removals are calculated from the future growth of those trees.
There are four phases of the project for each landowner and cohort: 
- Pre-Enrollment : Preliminary estimate, site visit and documentation review, and final estimate
- Enrollment : Contract execution (for entire cohort), forest inventory, delivery of projected total offsets, validation, verification and submission to the American Carbon Registry
- Issuance and Maintenance: Completion of registration, sale and transfer of offsets for compensation, long term project maintenance with annual tonnage issuance through the 20-year term 
- Re-Crediting: In 2042, ACE plans to enter into a second crediting period with the methodology in use at that time. However, if re-verifying is economically unfeasible due to protocol changes or market conditions, credit issuance will not continue during those years. At that time, the landowner may opt to harvest the additional growth only during that time (year 21-40). Project monitoring and verification will continue until 2062.
Under the American Carbon Registry protocol, the obligation to restrict timber harvest on the property extends for a forty-year period (2062), even though the maximum crediting period for evaluating possible carbon sequestration extends only for twenty years (until 2042). This is due to a series of assumptions about how different forest baselines and market conditions will develop over the next two decades.The volume of offsets (metric tons) generated for your property is based on the carbon sequestration predicted to occur for the first twenty-year term. At that time, ACE and the landowners within the cohort can jointly agree to re-enroll in the second crediting period if it remains economically feasible to do so. Alternatively, the landowner may choose to selectively harvest the growth that they would accrue over this 20 year time period (year 21-40) as long as their obligation to the previously issued carbon tons are maintained. Measurement and verification of carbon stocks will be maintained and administered by ACE for the full 40 years of the project. 
Forest Management and Harvest
There is some flexibility for allowable non-commercial activity under an ACE project including such things such as trail clearings, road clearings, food plots, preventative forest management, firewood for personal use, and other non-commercial activity as long as it remains a nominal part of the overall acreage. Every year the landowner will need to provide an account of this activity to ACE. 
ACE encourages all its landowners to consider this 40 year obligation seriously. However, if a landowner desires to terminate the contract and obligations early, they will be responsible for replacing the greater of 100% of the tons deemed valueless at fair market value or transaction price, whichever is larger.
Things like wildfire, pest infestation, government easement, or other natural disasters that are beyond the control of the landowner are accounted for within the project buffer pool. A buffer pool is a mandatory part of any carbon project and is maintained by the American Carbon Registry. All estimates you receive will account for this buffer pool percentage. 
The buffer pool is not designed to operate on an individual basis. Just like group health insurance, the individual contribution does not necessarily limit the draw. Buffer pool tons are required and available through the American Carbon Registry equally for all Improved Forest Management projects nationwide. Buffer pool tons are non-fungible and will never be used outside of their intended purpose. 
Costs and Payments
One of the many advantages of participating in the Appalachian Carbon Exchange is that ACE does not collect a fee directly from the landowner, but is reimbursed for project costs at the time the landowner receives payments for its credits.
Once a cohort has closed, it takes roughly 18 months to complete the inventory, verification, issuance and sale. We do not offer immediate payment because we maintain a high level of verification before issuing payment.
The enrollment date of each cohort depends on the commitment of enough land owners to justify a reasonable cost distribution. This discretion is up to ACE, and may possibly add extra time to any pre-enrollment phase.
Once the cohort has completed inventory, verification and issuance, the first payment will be made. Payments will occur annually through 2042, at which time the landowner has the ability to choose to harvest the additional growth or re-credit for additional tons if market conditions are right.
Project expenses include the third party costs of inventory, verification, annual registry account fee, and offset issuance and transfer fees. Carbon projects require an initial forest inventory as a part of each cohort, after which periodic validation and verification services are performed by independent third parties. These costs are initially paid on behalf of the landowner by ACE and its partners, and then deducted from the gross project revenue to reimburse ACE once the offsets have transacted.
The landowner will benefit from our design of a long-term view of cost accounting. ACE’s role as the project proponent requires us to model project costs for the full 40-year project life, and plan accordingly to administer and manage these costs effectively from year 1 to year 40. ACE will apportion a percentage of offset revenues for long-term project maintenance, which will be held in escrow specifically for this purpose and therefore alleviate the landowner of these long-term cost and administrative concerns.

In a typical project under this methodology, the landowner is responsible for the project maintenance from year 10-40. This burden can extend beyond a generation. Because of that, ACE created a board designated fund for organizational longevity for this reason, and will be able to serve our landowners as the project proponent administrator.
Leftover money in the long-term maintenance escrow will be equally distributed to the landowners based on their share of the project group at the end of the term (2062).
As the voluntary carbon market is unregulated, there are limited resources to understand a global price for carbon. Part of ACE’s mission is the strength of our relationships with our regional buyers, and we seek to sell at a price comparable to the high-quality of these offsets. ACE provides a unique scenario where we provide a direct share of the best price we can achieve on the market.
If your company or organization owns land and is interested in using deferred harvest to support your net zero goals, we can help. Please reach out directly to discuss this possibility. 
As a part of an aggregated project, ACE maintains the sole right to sell the project offsets to its network of regional buyers. If you have an interested regional buyer who would like to be incorporated into a cohort purchase agreement, we would love to discuss this opportunity with you. 
The first step is to fill out an application to join a cohort, accessible here. We will get back to you with a preliminary estimate and an opportunity to connect virtually or in-person. We will then ask you to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) so we can share our contract with you. Additionally, we ask for a thorough review of any property specific legal documents that would affect the rights of the landowner, including timber, development, and mineral rights. Then a final estimate will be provided and included in the contract for signing and project kick off.