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Photo via Nisqually Land Trust/Mount Rainier Gateway Project
Photo via Nisqually Land Trust/Mount Rainier Gateway Project

About 520 acres of forest near Mount Rainier will be the first in Washington state to meet California carbon standards, thanks to a major investment by Microsoft.

In ongoing efforts to become carbon neutral, Microsoft, working with Natural Capital Partners, purchased the majority of credits — 35,000 of the 37,000 needed — to help the Nisqually Carbon Project.

The Nisqually Carbon Project is a partnership between the Washington Environmental Council and the Nisqually Land Trust. The credits will help restore the forest and create habitats for endangered species throughout 520 acres adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park.

It’s the first forest carbon project in the Pacific Northwest to achieve the carbon offset protocol set in California. Per Microsoft, 37,000 credits is the “equivalent to taking 6,000 cars off the road.”

Why does managing carbon in the forest matter?

Photo via Wikipedia/Mount Rainier
Photo via Wikipedia/Mount Rainier

“Old forests hold more carbon than young ones,” said Becky Kelley, president of Washington Environmental Council, said in the Microsoft release. “This project focuses on restoring old growth forest to store carbon, which also creates habitat for endangered species and helps provide clean drinking water for local residents.”

The goal is to double the amount of carbon in the forest, from 223 metric tons of CO2 per acres to 446.

Natural Capital Partners partners with Microsoft to manage the company’s portfolio of carbon offsets. According to the release, the IT industry is responsible for 2 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, “similar to aviation.”

Microsoft committed to being carbon neutral in 2012.

That year, as we reported, the company said that it had reached a goal to reduce its carbon emissions as a proportion of its revenue by 30 percent, from 2007 levels, but was still criticized by Greenpeace for not doing enough. Microsoft then announced that it would become “carbon neutral” for the first time that year by buying carbon credits to make up the difference.

“Everyone has a role to play if we’re going to tackle climate change,” said Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, in today’s press release. “At Microsoft we want to do our part and this project not only offsets carbon emissions, but it also protects forests in the region we call home.”

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