Buena Vista Heights Urban Forestry Conservation Area

Elizabeth Township, Pennsylvania

United States

Urban Forestry

Technical details

This may be the smallest forest-related carbon offset project in the world: just 124 acres on a hilltop next to the Youghlogheny River, 10 miles upstream from Pittsburgh. Local residents who soothe their minds and souls with a quick walk among the trees don’t care about that. Neither do kids from nearby schools who play here, giving themselves accidental environmental lessons in the process—nor the birds, animals, fish, and other creatures that live among the trees, shrubs, and streams.

To them, this irregularly shaped little patch of woods is more precious than a vast rainforest or a soaring stand of California redwoods.

Until the mid-1970s, it was farmland. Since then, nature has been quietly reclaiming it. Neighbors created a few homemade trails. Otherwise, humans mostly left it alone until a developer began platting lots for a 150-home subdivision. That’s when the Allegheny Land Trust stepped in.

The trust is a nonprofit organization that protects green spaces in the Pittsburgh area—more than 2,700 acres across 31 different municipalities so far. It bought the property, designated it as the Buena Vista Heights Conservation Area, and protected it with a 40-year covenant that bans logging and use of motorized vehicles. To help pay for the purchase, it’s selling its first-ever carbon credits: 13,966 of them, representing that many metric tons (15,395 US tons) of carbon dioxide equivalents that would have been emitted had the land been cleared for development.

That doesn’t include the further tons of carbon that the growing trees will pull from the atmosphere in the coming decades. Nor does it count the benefits of cleaner air and water, or the 128 million gallons of rainwater that the forest absorbs every year to mitigate the flooding that is increasingly plaguing downstream communities.

To verify the offsets, the trust turned to one of the newest and most specialized carbon registries: City Forest Credits. The registry, founded in 2015, handles only urban forestry projects, with a goal of “creating greener, healthier, and more equitable cities.” Its website says, “Our overarching goal is to provide new revenue streams for declining national urban forests.”

Local people preserve a small but precious natural asset for their community. Everybody wins.

Cloverly buys offsets that meet accepted standards for being real, measurable, verifiable, permanent, and additional. "Additional" means that the carbon savings would not have happened without the offset project and that the project would not have happened unless it got certified to sell carbon offsets. City Forest Credits oversees verification of the Buena Vista Heights project. You can find verification documents at https://www.cityforestcredits.org/carbon-credits/carbon-registry/pittsburgh-forest-carbon-offsets/.

For an interactive map of the projects in our portfolio, see https://www.cloverly.com/project-map.

Total Capacity

Instrument Type

Carbon Offset

Registry Name

City Forest Credits