Our core mission at NCX is to connect American landowners to net-zero leaders. We were thrilled to act on this mission in April at our first ever NCX Field Visit event. We brought together a select group of Natural Capital Exchange participants, customers, partners, and colleagues for an immersive experience touring several forests in East Texas enrolled in our program. Attendees gained a better understanding of and exposure to working forests, saw hands-on how the NCX forest carbon marketplace and technology works, and connected with and learned from foresters and landowners who participate in our program.
Forest carbon markets can be difficult to understand, and their potential to create change can feel intangible. Field visits offer sustainability leaders a chance to set foot into the forests they support. Reality takes hold when you can see how the methodologies and technology that shape a program relate to what is happening on the ground in a forest.
What it means to sustainability
Sustainability leaders across the oil & gas, waste, consultancy, finance, aviation, accounting and environmental industries joined us for the NCX Field Visit. Motivations for attending included getting on the ground exposure to how carbon finance has led landowners to change their management practices, learning about the logistics involved in developing nature-based carbon projects, seeing firsthand how the NCX tonne-year accounting methodology works in practice, exploring how technology gives access to private forests to participate in carbon project development, and getting the chance to connect with passionate climate change leaders and like-minded carbon experts.
Nick McCulloch, Director of Sustainability at Rubicon, attended the NCX Field Visit and shared, “Generating credible forest carbon credits isn’t simply a question of planting more trees or preventing trees from being harvested. It is a complex and, at times, conceptually abstract proposition. The NCX Field Visit events are designed to demystify the process, exposing buyers to the on-the-ground reality of forest carbon programs. Having attended, I feel more connected to NCX, the landowners, and the land itself. I can’t recommend it enough.”
We plan to host a NCX Field Visit every quarter for our customers, stakeholders, NGO partners, and other community members interested in learning about forest carbon and the Natural Capital Exchange.
Unearthing the unique power of forests
There were a few key moments of the event that made the Natural Capital Exchange come to life. Forests are all unique, and we were fortunate to experience everything from a natural stand to plantation land, and even a property used to provide educational opportunities for Boy Scouts. Each of these landowners worked with their forester to achieve their own unique management objectives.
Landowners shared their motivation for participating in carbon markets and the Natural Capital Exchange specifically. The annual contracts offered by NCX provided an opportunity for forest owners to finally participate in a forest carbon program. Before NCX, the long term contracts of traditional forest carbon programs prevented these landowners from realizing any economic value from their land beyond timber. This is a frequent point made by participants and hones in on exactly why we created the Natural Capital Exchange with annual contracts.
The first forest we visited was a natural stand, which means the trees that already existed on the landscape were able to regenerate naturally with the regulation of invasive species. The family who owns the property bought it parcel by parcel after the development of a subdivision failed. They have worked closely with their forester, Wayne Pfluger, to develop a management plan that includes controlled burns1 and thinning2 to promote tree growth on their property.
The second site was rotational plantation land, primarily composed of pine. We were able to experience and see the differences between the natural stand of the first property and the plantation land of the second. Despite their differences, both properties’ landowners worked with their forester, Wayne, to determine that NCX was a good fit for their forest management plans. The second site has 1,700 acres enrolled in the NCX program and was awarded Tree Farm of the Year this year for the state of Texas.
The third site was Camp Strake, a Boy Scouts of America property providing outdoor access to Scouts north of Houston. The Boy Scouts leaders at this property shared how they were excited by the opportunity to participate in the Natural Capital Exchange as a part of their forest management plan because the Boy Scouts consider themselves the original conservationists. Erick Simmons, the Director of Camp Strake, also provided insight into the importance of working with their forester: “Working with Wayne Pfluger, our forester, has been phenomenal. We would be lost without someone like Wayne to help us develop a long-term plan for the Camp so that the property, the resources it provides, and the forest are around and healthy for generations.”
As we worked with landowners across the U.S. for years, we saw how the majority of them — such as the ones we met during this event — were left out of the climate solution. The exclusion experienced by smaller landowners not only hindered society’s ability to meet climate goals, but unfairly compensated only the wealthiest of industrial landowners for their carbon storage. By tapping into technology, we are proud to eliminate participation costs and multi-generational contract lengths to democratize access to carbon markets.
Reflecting on our first NCX Field Visit event, we remain committed to allowing carbon buyers to truly experience the landscape they are impacting and shake the hands of landowners who make this possible. We will be hosting Field Visit events regularly — as our program scales, we want to experience forests, their growth and our growth as landowners and sustainability leaders working together for the climate.
Organizations looking to buy carbon credits, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Landowners looking to sell forest carbon, email us at email@example.com
1 Controlled burns are used to reduce the amount of hazardous fuels in a forest which in turn reduces the risk of a catastrophic wildfire. Growth to plant species being promoted is enhanced through the removal of undesirable species which in turn releases nutrients and water. Wildlife habitat is also enhanced in a number of ways with the use of controlled burns.
2 Thinning is the removal of trees to promote management goals associated with forest health while promoting the higher quality trees for higher valued forest products. Most thinnings involve the removal of poorer quality trees, suppressed trees, defective trees or those with such defects as crooks, bends, forks or knots, or proximity to higher value trees.