Summary

Washington Conservation Action (WCA) is looking for a consultant to lead credible non-carbon impact evaluation for a 5-year project focused on climate-smart forestry in Pierce County, Washington.

Organizational Overview

WCA is a statewide environmental advocacy organization that advances environmental policies and pushes for actions that equitably address climate pollution, restore Puget Sound, sustain our state’s forests, and protect our democracy. We develop, advocate, and defend policies that ensure environmental progress and justice by centering and amplifying the voices of the most impacted communities.

Background

In 2023, WCA and seven partners were awarded a 5-year, $25 million USDA Climate Smart Commodities grant to develop a climate smart wood economy in the Pacific Northwest. This project supports two pressing needs: a growing demand for climate-smart wood from the architecture, engineering, and construction community, as well as the increased recognition of climate-smart forestry as a powerful tool to mitigate climate change.

Together with Pierce Conservation District (PCD), WCA is advancing this effort specifically in Pierce County by supporting the growth of a countywide climate-smart wood supply chain.
Our project will connect climate-smart wood producers in Pierce County, namely small forest landowners, Tribal Nations, and community forest managers with local mills, wood manufacturers, and downstream buyers who seek climate-smart wood products. In doing so, we intend to provide local benefits to the environment, community, and economy across three dimensions: mitigation, adaption, and equity.

Climate-smart forestry helps to mitigate climate change by increasing carbon storage and sequestration in forests and wood products, and by reducing emissions from forest operations. Our partners at Ecotrust have developed a methodology to measure carbon benefits and are leading efforts to quantify and communicate these impacts. Though adaptation and equity are benefits of climate-smart forestry, there are fewer methodologies to support evaluation in these areas. Adaptation includes ecosystem benefits that help to build ecological resilience in the face of a changing climate. Equity addresses issues of climate justice, community well-being, and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples. To be sustainable, forestry must address how social and economic benefits are distributed among landowners, workers, and communities.

Landowners enrolled in our program will be implementing many different climate-smart forestry practices depending on their management goals and forest type. Example practices include first-entry commercial thinning, brush management, prescribed burning, climate-adapted species planting, tribal first foods habitat restoration, and improved slash management. A complete list of eligible practices is included in a table at the end of this document.

Please note that this RFP is focused on non-carbon benefits. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for equity and program evaluation, we have posted a separate RFP here.

Objectives of the work

To understand the true impact of this project, we must identify metrics and develop frameworks and tools to measure adaptation. These data will help us evaluate the ecological impacts of climate smart forestry beyond carbon. We are looking for a consultant to develop a credible approach to evaluation of non-carbon impacts that addresses the following questions:

  • Climate-smart forestry provides many benefits to ecosystem health beyond carbon sequestration and storage, including, but not limited to regulating streamflow, enhancing salmon habitat, improving soil health, and decreasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Which non-carbon benefits are most impactful, measurable, and attributable to climate-smart forestry practices (compared to industrial management practices) in Western Washington?
    • Which climate smart forestry practices (of the practices included in the eligible practice table below) will most likely result in these measurable impacts? 
  • How should we measure these impacts? We anticipate consultants will use remote sensing and other spatial analysis techniques to identify and analyze the most relevant benefits of climate smart forestry, though it may also be possible to gather select field data for parcels enrolled in the project. Which methods would you use to conduct this analysis? If you do not plan to use GIS, what other tools and methods would you use? 
  • Currently, landowners who enroll in our program must agree to share parcel boundaries and harvest data with project staff. Which of the benefits and methods outlined above could be measured using these and other publicly available data? 
  • What additional data would we need to collect from participants to measure the impacts described above? 

Deliverables

Consultants will produce two deliverables: 1) outlining a credible, feasible approach to evaluation of non-carbon impacts and, 2) conducting a baseline analysis of current ecosystem health before program intervention. This approach will be summarized in a report and shared with WCA. WCA will provide feedback on the report, and the consultant will incorporate this feedback into the final version of the report.

  • The initial report proposing an approach will include the following:
  • 1-2 page summary of the framework developed and the overall approach to measuring adaptation, including baseline and impact after cost-share practices are implemented 
  • Prioritized description of the 3-5 most relevant ecological benefits and the recommended metrics to measure them effectively.
    • Indicate which of these benefits would require additional data collection and the type of data required
  • Detailed report of the methods planned to analyze each proposed benefit.
  • Description of the outputs anticipated from each proposed benefit
  • Discussion of how this analysis would help us understand the overall impact of the project to ecosystem health in Pierce County, WA. 

Following feedback and approval from WCA, the consultant will use the methods described in the report to conduct a baseline analysis.

  • The baseline analysis will include the following: 
  • Summary of results for each ecological benefit measured or an explanation of how we should consider baselines for each ecological benefit at the end of the project. For example, forestry techniques like thinning and gap cuts are sometimes recommended to increase snowpack. What baseline calculations would we need to conduct at the start of the project to be able to measure the change to snowpack across project sites that conducted a thin?
  • If conducting a spatial analysis, please include 1-2 maps showing the study area and any relevant baseline information on the ecological benefits of interest. 
  • Discussion of what your baseline results tell us about forest health in the study area at the start of the project. 
  • Discussion of how we should incorporate your baseline results into our final evaluation of the ecological impacts of the project. 

Ideally, the consultant would be interested in conducting a final analysis at the end of the project in 2028 based on the methods proposed in this report. We plan to publish out a separate RFP in the future for this final analysis.

Application Process

  • Complete the following:
  • Prepare the following information for the intake form:
    • Organization/company name, physical mailing address and EIN#
    • Project lead name, job title, email address, phone number
  • Complete the intake form. Upload completed application and budget documents as described in the intake form. Application materials must be submitted no later than the end of business day on 7/12/2024.

Scoring Criteria

Projects will be scored on the following criteria. A total of 35 points are available. 

CriteriaPoints
Overall approach is summarized thoughtfully and concisely. Approach is clear, realistic, and credible.5
List of 3-5 anticipated impacts is included, along with a high-level summary of the anticipated methods you would use to evaluate each. 8
Approach to baseline evaluation is clear, realistic, and credible. Summary includes how baseline evaluation may differ for various impacts. 5
Proposal demonstrates a qualified team that has successfully completed projects with quantifiable outcomes. If the team history on comparable work is limited, describe how the team plans to be successful, despite significant applied experience. 3
Proposed timeline is achievable and the included work elements demonstrate a commitment to completing high quality work in a timely manner. 3
Proposed budget demonstrates a commitment to fair compensation and efficient use of funds.3
Citations are included for at least 5 other relevant studies, examples, or methodologies. Short annotations indicate how this reference will be used in your work. 5
Includes a short description of the practices (from the eligible practices table) the consultant anticipates would result in measurable impacts. Indicates which practices would most likely result in the non-carbon impacts included in question 2. 3

Eligible Forest Stewardship Practices

Forest Stewardship PracticeDescription
Forest Management PlanA site-specific conservation plan that contains planned forest related conservation treatment activities for one or more resource concerns. 
Forest Management Practice DesignDesign a single or combination of forest related conservation practices to treat one or more resource concerns. 
Forest Management Assessment An in-depth forest stand level resource inventory.  
Indigenous Stewardship Methods EvaluationAn evaluation of land uses, capabilities, and limitations with respect to Indigenous Stewardship Methods (ISM) that informs the conservation planning process.  ISM is provided by an Indian Tribe, Tribal member, or other Indigenous person uniquely reflective of their knowledge or observation relating to natural and cultural resources.
Brush Management The management or removal of woody (non-herbaceous or succulent) plants including those that are invasive and noxious. Does not include removal by prescribed fire.  
Wildlife Habitat PlantingEstablishing wildlife habitat by planting herbaceous vegetation or shrubs.  
Tree/Shrub Site PreparationTreatment of sites to enhance the success of natural or artificial regeneration of desired trees and/or shrubs. 
Tree/Shrub EstablishmentEstablishing woody plants by planting, by direct seeding, or through natural regeneration. 
Restoration of Rare and Declining Communities Reestablishment of abiotic conditions necessary to support rare or declining natural assemblages of native plants and animals.
Early Successional Habitat Development-Management Vegetation management in replanted/recovering forest. 
Forest Stand Improvement Pre-commercial thinning, early commercial thinning, thinning for enhanced carbon storage or climate resilience, vegetation competition management. 
Retention of Snags, Dens, Trees, Coarse Woody Debris for Wildlife HabitatImprove wildlife habitat through creation and retention of snags, den trees, wolf trees, forest stand structural diversity, and coarse woody debris on the forest floor, to provide cover, shelter, and other habitat features for native wildlife species.
Woody Residue Treatment Reduces or otherwise addresses the management of woody plant residues created during forestry, agroforestry or horticultural activities, or resulting from natural disasters.
Prescribed Burning PlanSite-specific plan developed for a client who wishes to plan and implement decisions on land where prescribed burning related activities or practices will be planned and applied.
Prescribed BurningPlanned fire applied to a predetermined area to: Manage undesirable vegetation, manage pests, reduce plant pressure, reduce wildfire hazards from biomass accumulation, improve habitat. 
Fuel BreakA strip or appropriately sized block of land on which the vegetation, debris, and litter have been reduced and/or modified to control or diminish the spread of fire.
Riparian Forest BufferAn area predominantly covered by trees and/or shrubs located adjacent to and up-gradient from a watercourse or water body

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