Central Texas Floodplain Reforestation Program
The Central Texas Floodplain Reforestation Program restores healthy forest buffers along riparian or streamside areas within a 6-county region. Riparian forests improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and contribute to our overall well-being. These forests can sequester enough carbon to counteract the effects of local fossil fuel consumption while generating carbon offsets to address regional climate change.
Public and private landowners in Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Williamson, Caldwell, and Burnet counties interested in protecting their land while creating a positive impact on our environment are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to private landowners, and all proceeds made from the sale of carbon credits help fund current and future reforestation efforts.
The type of carbon offsets offered by TreeFolks are called Carbon+ Credits, developed by City Forest Credits, a nonprofit based in Seattle, WA. The “+” sign after carbon represents some of the additional ecosystem services provided by trees in addition to carbon sequestration. City Forest Credits created protocols to quantify these co-benefits — the amount of energy savings, stormwater interception, air quality improvements, and regional cooling effects provided by trees in urban and urbanizing environments.
Reforestation services are valued at around $5,000 per acre but are absolutely free of charge to private landowners who participate in the 25-year commitment to protect their land from the impacts of climate change and development. Services include on-site consultations, a diverse mix of native saplings, complete planting services, ongoing technical support, and educational materials and opportunities. In exchange for this service, landowners donate the Carbon+ Credits to TreeFolks, which are then traded to public and private entities interested in offsetting their carbon emissions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I have to allow Carbon+ Credits to be generated from my land in order to participate?
Yes, this program is currently dependent on this criteria as the sale of the credits is used to support current and future programming.
How do I qualify?
To receive reforestation services, the applicant must own land that is within the 6-county region of Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Williamson, Caldwell, and Burnet, and have a portion of FEMA’s 100yr floodplain in it.
How much does the program cost?
The program is valued at $5,000 per acre or $7 per tree but is completely free of charge for participating landowners.
What are Carbon+ Credits?
Carbon+ Credits are at their simplest a way to estimate how much one metric ton of carbon dioxide is worth once it has been removed from the atmosphere. One metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted by a car or an industrial plant may be ‘offset’ by doing something to capture carbon from the air.
For example, the City of Austin would like to purchase credits to offset the carbon generated by daily activities (mostly driving vehicles). Carbon credits are quantified using a unique method developed by scientists at the nonprofit City Forest Credits.
This method accounts for the particular environmental variables of riparian plantings in our region and includes the additional benefits of quantified rainfall interception, energy savings, and air quality improvements.
What does participating in the program mean for me?
This program is novel in its goal of generating carbon credits from our free planting services on private Texas land. Your support helps us try out this exciting new framework, and we will work hand-in-hand with you as the process develops. The most important things to know are:
- Producing Carbon+ Credits requires a promise to not remove the trees for 25 years, so that they may sequester enough carbon to be meaningful. The protection is granted through a legal deed restriction or declaration of covenants attached to the land.
Tree growth will be measured by satellite imagery, like Google Maps, and will require little to no access to the property over those 25 years
- Funds generated from the sale of the carbon credits will be used exclusively by TreeFolks, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, to fund future tree plantings in Central Texas and will not be used for personal gain
- The value of the Carbon+ Credits is not currently considered a tax-deductible donation.
- Other than that, we anticipate little effort on behalf of the landowner – all paperwork and fees will be handled by the nonprofit.
Assisting TreeFolks in this program will allow you to protect your trees and give back to your community for future generations!
What size trees will be planted?
In our work reforesting the Lost Pines after the fires of 2011 and along the Blanco River after the floods of 2015, we found that large-scale reforestation through planting small saplings is the most cost-effective method of establishing forestland at scale.
The methodology, backed by peer-reviewed science, yields healthy forest density by overplanting low-cost native tree saplings at high density in order to offset mortality (our minimum is 545 trees per acre, or space at around 8-9’ apart). Lack of irrigation and fencing needs (except in the case of active livestock grazing) or other interventions help keep the costs low.
Landowners are not expected to actively maintain the saplings once planted and are offered free educational consultations to increase understanding of the importance of healthy, riparian forests, with follow-up tree survival studies where applicable.