Why Did NCX Stop the 1-Year Forest Carbon Program?
Max Nova
Max Nova
20 May, 2024 min read

In 2018, NCX started running our own forest carbon program that has since been discontinued.  The program’s 1-year term length was extremely popular with landowners and NCX paid millions of dollars to thousands of American landowners to grow older, more carbon-rich trees.  It remains the largest US forest carbon project ever.  So why doesn’t NCX offer this program anymore?

Unfortunately, the buyers of carbon credits didn’t like the 1-year program.  Despite the rhetoric around a “climate emergency,” most of today’s carbon buyers prefer to pre-pay for “permanent” carbon storage decades or centuries in advance rather than maximizing present-day climate impact. Without buyer demand for the 1-year credits, NCX couldn’t continue the program.

The preferences of carbon buyers are heavily influenced by a small number of organizations who make tens of millions of dollars every year for putting their stamp of approval on carbon credits.  For two years, NCX worked with one of these groups called Verra towards approval of the 1-year program.  Despite accepting the initial concept note for the 1-year program, Verra put final certification on indefinite hold, effectively killing the program. Disappointingly, Verra has never stated a scientific or technical basis for this decision.

Since then, the carbon credits industry has been rocked by scandal after scandal, many involving projects certified by Verra.  The central issue is always, “what is a good’ carbon credit?” along with related financial basics like time and risk management. The rules for carbon credits are evolving rapidly and NCX is proud to have inspired innovations like shorter term lengths and dynamic baselines that are gaining traction in the market.

From these recent issues in carbon markets back to our founding in 2010, NCX’s north star has always been helping landowners make informed and confident decisions about their forests, fields, and other natural capital assets. In thousands of conversations across the years, we’ve heard again and again from landowners that natural capital markets like the forest carbon market are confusing, lack transparency, and contain poorly understood and undisclosed risks.

Guided by these many landowner conversations and our own experiences over the last decade, we have shifted our business to help landowners like you navigate these constantly changing markets.  The Natural Capital Exchange (NCX) is now a marketplace where you can learn about and get paid for carbon, wildlife, timber, solar energy, and more.  Our mission is to help landowners like Will confidently engage in natural capital markets.

When you create a free account on NCX.com, we alert you whenever you qualify for a new program in your area.  We evaluate your property to estimate how much you could make from each program and help you compare the risks and rewards of other programs.  NCX also offers free consultations if you’d like to talk through your options live with an NCX Expert.

Because we don’t run our own forest carbon program anymore, we can provide an unconflicted perspective on natural capital markets.  The reality today is that many existing forest carbon programs are not economically competitive with traditional practices like timber harvesting.  But the markets are changing rapidly.  There are now 20 year and shorter agreements for different types of carbon contracts. Though it’s unlikely that 1 year contracts will be available anytime soon, it’s likely that more appealing carbon programs will become available.  Beyond carbon, there are also plenty of other natural capital markets for wildlife, tree planting, timber, solar energy, and more.  NCX is an easy way to keep up with the market and find the right programs for you and your land.

To those of you who participated in the earlier NCX forest carbon program, we thank you for believing in our vision for fair and honest natural capital markets.  

To those natural capitalists who are just getting started, we welcome you to the NCX community. 

Together, let’s create prosperity for people and the planet.

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about the author

Max Nova

Max Nova

Co-Founder and COO
Max Nova co-founded NCX over a decade ago. He built many of the Natural Capital Exchange's core technical systems that power the largest forest carbon projects in the US. Now Max serves as the COO of NCX and helps connect American forest owners with net-zero pioneers like Microsoft. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Max earned a degree in computer science from Yale.