Verra has issued a new version (v4.6) of the VCS Standard (PDF) that clarifies the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program’s ecosystem health safeguards. As a result of these clarifications, Verra will permit the limited use of non-native monocultures in Afforestation, Reforestation, and Revegetation (ARR) and Wetlands Restoration and Conservation (WRC) projects in the VCS Program. Per the program’s ecosystem health safeguards, the use of non-native monocultures resulting in ecosystem conversion is only permitted in degraded ecosystems.

This update will enable urgently needed climate mitigation and other ecosystem service benefits, such as finance for restoration, provision of pulp and paper, and firewood resources for local communities.

The VCS Standard, v4.5 (PDF), released in August 2023, had excluded non-native monocultures from use in ARR and WRC project types with start dates of March 1, 2024, or later. The modification of this earlier update follows extensive stakeholder dialogue, expert analysis, scientific literature review, and a dedicated public consultation that ran from October 24 through November 26, 2023. (See also the announcement on the conclusion of the consultation.) The comments received during this public consultation and Verra’s responses are now available in the consultation announcement and the announcement on the conclusion of the consultation.

Version 4.6 of the VCS Standard is effective immediately.

The clarified ecosystem health safeguards relate to the following:

  • Hydrological functions of ecosystems (section 3.19.28)
  • Activities that can only occur in degraded ecosystems (section 3.19.29)

Generally, the clarifications reduce reliance on terms not defined in the VCS Program Definitions (PDF).

Projects should continue to use the existing VCS project template versions to report on the above requirements and demonstrate conformance with sections 3.19.28 and 3.19.29 of the VCS Standard, v4.6.

While developing version 5 of the VCS Program, Verra will address related topics that arose while considering the non-native monoculture issue, such as a mechanism to differentiate between credits generated from plantation, agroforestry, and restoration activities.

For any questions about these updates to the VCS Program, please contact

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