Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who administers Go Zero?
Go Zero is administered by The Conservation Fund. Effective and efficient, we are consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top environmental charities by two watchdog organizations: Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.
2. Where does my donation go?
Your charitable contribution of approximately $10.00 per tree (or about $8.00 per short ton of CO2 sequestered) supports the Fund’s efforts to restore native forests that will reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, protect wildlife habitat and enhance America’s public recreation areas.
Go Zero donations support The Conservation Fund’s efforts to acquire land on behalf of national and state parks or wildlife refuges and to restore that land with native trees that will trap carbon dioxide over the project’s lifetime (estimated at 100 years). Donations are also used to help Fund staff and its partners measure, monitor and validate the project over time.
The Go Zero program was created as a philanthropic approach to offsetting the annual carbon dioxide emitted by a specific activity, business, organization or individual. All carbon accrued by Go Zero projects is withheld from the carbon market. It cannot be banked for future offset purposes, traded, or sold by Go Zero donors in the future.
3. How does it work?
The process of collecting carbon in forests, soils, geological formations and other carbon “sinks” is called carbon sequestration. Native trees and forests help fight climate change as part of their natural processes. As they grow, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, convert it to oxygen and store the carbon in their trunks, roots and leaves. In addition to trapping the gases that cause climate change, these new forests filter the water we drink, restore habitat for wildlife and enhance public recreation areas.
4. Who plants the trees?
Go Zero trees are planted and monitored by scientists specializing in reforestation and carbon sequestration planting and monitoring. We also work with state foresters and professional tree planters at select sites. Go Zero trees may be planted by volunteers for ceremonial purposes only.
5. Who cares for the trees?
Go Zero works primarily with state and federal public land agencies, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These government agencies are the long-term land managers and stewards of the Go Zero trees and employ well-trained biologists and environmental professionals. Our public agency partners provide written verification of each planting and are responsible for monitoring and stewardship of the land once it is restored.
6. When will my trees be planted?
The Fund pools Go Zero donations and completes one or two major restoration projects each year. Your trees are typically planted as part of the first project after your donation.
7. Where are my trees planted?
For the past several years, The Conservation Fund’s reforestation efforts have focused on the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Today, we’re directing Go Zero donations toward the Lake Ophelia, Grand Cote, Red River and Upper Ouachita national wildlife refuges in Louisiana. Read more about where we plant >>
8. How much carbon dioxide does one tree absorb?
Sequestration rates are based on scientific research conducted by third party expert organizations including Winrock International, TerraCarbon and the Fish and Wildlife Service and vary depending on tree species and geographic location. Go Zero calculations assume average sequestration rates per acre of land reforested and always include appropriate tree survival assumptions.
For example, in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, where most of the Fund’s sequestration efforts have been focused, the Fund and its partners plant approximately 302 trees per acre, which will sequester an estimated 361 tons of carbon dioxide over 100 years. Therefore, on a per planted tree basis, each tree absorbs an estimated average of approximately one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
9. Is reforestation an effective way to fight climate change?
Yes. But it takes time. While there is no silver bullet to this issue, reforesting once-forested but currently unproductive areas such as marginal agricultural lands is a recognized way to sequester carbon dioxide.
Estimates are that as much as 50% of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last 50 years may be due to the effects of land use change. Furthermore, climate scientists estimate that between 12-17% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation. Thus, restoring forestland represents one way, among others, to reverse these effects and combat climate change.
According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, climate change policies should include storage of carbon dioxide in U.S. forests. “Climate change is the major global environmental challenge of our time and in order to deal with it in the most cost-effective way, we need to consider the full range of solutions – and that includes carbon storage in forests,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “If we ignore the potential for forest-based sequestration, any projection of the costs and feasibility of addressing climate change is going to be overly pessimistic and wrong.”
Given the scale of the effort required to tackle climate change, we need to pursue new technologies that help us reduce our footprint and at the same time, recognize and use the tools we have at our fingertips.
10. Do I earn ‘carbon credits’ as a result of my donation?
No. There are no carbon credits generated from the project. The Go Zero program was created a as a philanthropic approach to support reforestation projects that trap carbon over time. Thus all of the carbon accrued by projects is withheld from the carbon market. It cannot be claimed, traded or resold in the future. These projects are distinct from those that produce offsets or credits that businesses or individuals could use in a compliance market if the United States passes legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
11. What standards and principles does the Go Zero program adhere to?
The Conservation Fund uses calculation methods and standards set forth by The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative (GHG Protocol), which aims to harmonize accounting and reporting standards worldwide to ensure that different trading platforms and other climate related initiatives adopt consistent approaches to GHG accounting. In addition, our carbon monitoring regime follows the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Good Practice Guidance (IPCC GPG 2003) and satisfies the IPCC Tier 3, the GPG’s highest level of accuracy criteria.
In terms of its reforestation activities, all Go Zero projects adhere to the following principles:
Native Species: Forest-based carbon sequestration projects are comprised of native trees, designed to restore fully functioning natural systems.
Environmental Benefits: Projects provide additional environmental benefits including restored wildlife habitat, improved air and water quality and enhanced recreation areas.
Permanence: Go Zero works with the nation’s leading public natural resource agencies and non-governmental organizations so that trees are planted in permanently protected areas with long-term management plans to ensure accuracy and certainty of carbon sequestration. In addition, up to ten percent of the total anticipated carbon to be captured from a project will be set aside as a buffer, or a reserve, in case of loss. In general, project areas with high risk of loss, such as from fire or drought, will not qualify.
Additionality: Each Go Zero project establishes a carbon baseline and a defined monitoring system so that GHG removals can be independently verified. Projects result in additional carbon dioxide capture compared to that which would otherwise have occurred.
Leakage: Projects do not displace productive land-use activities nor do they displace emissions to another location. For example, carbon capture and storage activities at our project areas do not lead to the clearing of forestlands elsewhere.
Validation: Beginning in 2009, Go Zero projects are being validated against the standards of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, which were designed to identify and evaluate land management activities that simultaneously minimize climate change, support sustainable development and conserve biodiversity.