10 Best Carbon Offsets for Afforestation (Complete 2023 List)

10 Best Carbon Offsets for Afforestation (Complete 2023 List)

By
Grace Smoot

Read Time:20 Minutes

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Afforestation is the act of planting trees in areas not recently forested. Partnered with carbon offsets, afforestation could play a crucial role in mitigating climate change because it increases the number of trees that are able to absorb carbon from our atmosphere. So, we had to ask: what are the best afforestation carbon offsets?

The best afforestation carbon offsets are offered by the Arbor Day Foundation, Climate Impact Partners, and WeForest, that all plant trees on degraded lands globally. In addition, Reforest’Action and Ecologi restore degraded pastures and grasslands in South Africa, Senegal, and Uruguay.

Keep reading to learn more about the best carbon offsets for afforestation, how these carbon offset projects work, what their respective offsetting costs are, and what your best way would be to offset your carbon emissions. At the end of the article, we’ll also share with you what the biggest carbon offsetting limitations are and why reducing your carbon footprint is more effective than offsetting it.

Here’s What All the Best Afforestation Carbon Offsets Have in Common

Carbon offsets are reductions in carbon emissions that are used to compensate for carbon emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms on what is known as the global carbon offset market. 

“Carbon Offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by reforestation”

Oxford Dictionary

Planting trees can be classified in two ways, either as reforestation or afforestation. Afforestation carbon offsets are a specific type of tree planting carbon offset that focuses on planting trees on lands that have not recently been covered with forest (i.e., establishing new forests on lands not recently forested). Conversely, reforestation focuses on converting recently non-forested land back into forested land.

“Afforestation: the act or process of establishing a forest especially on land not previously forested)”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Afforestation is an example of biological carbon sequestration, or the storage of carbon in vegetation (forests), soils, and oceans, which are commonly referred to as our carbon sinks

Afforestation carbon offsets can help combat deforestation, which is the main threat to our forests and occurs at approximately 10 million hectares (~25 million acres) per year. In total, our planet has lost more than 1/3 of its forest since the last ice age, which occurred about 2.6 million years ago

Illustration of deforestation and forest loss since the last ice age
Our World in Data: Deforestation and Forest Loss

Planting trees is one of the simplest and most meaningful ways you can help preserve the environment and combat global climate change. Trees not only act as one of our largest carbon sinks, they also provide numerous benefits in addition to climate change mitigation.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the big picture of afforestation offsets? Check it out in this article here: “What Are Afforestation Carbon Offsets and How Do They Work? The Big Picture”

These Are the 10 Best Afforestation Carbon Offsets in 2023

Below are our favorite afforestation carbon offsets (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

Afforestation Carbon OffsetsQuick Facts
The Arbor Day FoundationAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation (and reforestation) projects in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (US), Nicaragua, and Peru.
Costs: $40 per 1,000kg of CO2
Climate Impact PartnersAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation projects in China and Guatemala. 
Costs: Costs are determined after initial contact
WeForestAbout: Carbon offset purchases support 5 projects under the Great Green Wall program, which plants trees across the width of Africa.
Costs: Costs are determined after initial contact
Reforest’ActionAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the planting of trees on degraded pastures in Kuzuko (South Africa) project.
Costs: $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
EcologiAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation projects including restoring degraded land in Senegal and planting forest plantations on degraded grasslands in Uruguay.
Costs: $6.04 per 1,000kg of CO2
One Tree PlantedAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation projects including restoring degraded land in Iceland.
Costs: $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
CarbonfundAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation projects including the Panama reforestation project.
Costs: $16.25-$17.16 per 1,000kg of CO2 for individuals, $390-$1,560 per year for small businesses, determined after initial contact for large businesses
myclimateAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation projects including community reforestation in Nicaragua.
Costs: $23-$30 per 1,000kg of CO2
WrenAbout: Carbon offset purchases support their community tree planting project, an afforestation (and reforestation) project that pays farmers in East Africa to plant trees on farmland.
Costs: $23 per 1,000kg of CO2
TerrapassAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the Québec afforestation (and reforestation) project.
Costs: $16.51-$17.63 per 1,000kg of CO2
1

The Arbor Day Foundation: Inspiring People to Plant, Nurture, and Celebrate Trees

Screenshot of the Arbor Day Foundation front page

The Arbor Day Foundation was founded in 1972 by John Rosenow to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Arbor Day, the oldest environmental holiday. Today, they are a nonprofit that has expanded to 55 countries and has planted over 500 million trees. They aim to both plant trees and help people understand their value.

“Let’s grow a movement”

The Arbor Day Foundation

Carbon offset overview: The Arbor Day Foundation has partnered with GreenTrees®, Taking Root, and Ecotierra to support reforestation/afforestation projects in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (US), Nicaragua, and Peru, respectively. These projects restore degraded agricultural lands, replenish soils, and resort forest canopy. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: The Mississippi, Nicaragua, and Peru offset projects are certified according to the American Carbon Registry, Plan Vivo, and the Verified Carbon Standard, respectively. The Arbor Day Foundation’s offset projects also adhere to one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Carbon offset costs: It costs $40 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit Arbor Day’s website to purchase your carbon offsets.

2

Climate Impact Partners: Comprehensive Carbon Offsetting Programs

Screenshot of the Climate Impact Partners front page

Climate Impact Partners (CIP) was founded in 1997 as the result of a merger between Natural Capital Partners and ClimateCare. Today, they deliver high quality carbon projects for individuals and businesses with the overall aim of reducing 1 billion tons (bt) of CO2 by 2030.

“Working with partners to make real change possible”

Climate Impact Partners

Carbon offset overview: CIP supports carbon projects involving REDD+, blue carbon, clean cooking/water, renewable energy, and afforestation/reforestation. Their Chinese Afforestation Portfolio supports projects that restore 100,000 hectares of degraded lands in northwestern and southeastern Chinese provinces. And an example afforestation project is afforestation in Guatemala, which plants new forests on degraded farmlands.

Carbon offset effectiveness: All of CIP’s carbon projects are verified according to recognized standards including the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Gold Standard, the American Carbon Registry (ACR), and the Climate Action Reserve (CAR). And they also support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Carbon offset costs: Costs are determined after initial contact.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit CIP’s website to get in touch with a representative and get your carbon offsets.

3

WeForest: Protecting, Restoring, and Planting Forests Globally

Screenshot of the WeForest front page

WeForest was founded in 2010 by Bill Liao and Marie-Noelle Keijzer as a climate change nonprofit aimed at stopping climate change. Today, they support locally-led reforestation and afforestation projects in threatened and degraded tropical forests and landscapes across the globe.

“Making Earth Cooler for People, Nature, Climate”

WeForest

Carbon offset overview: WeForest supports the African Great Green Wall program, which was established in 2007 and aims to reforest 8,000km (5,000 miles) of land across the width of Africa. WeForest supports 5 active Great Green Wall projects, including 1 in Senegal and 4 in Ethopia, which all aim to reverse desertification by planting trees. You can purchase carbon offsets to support these projects through their business partnership.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Reforestation areas are recorded in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database, tree planting sites are field monitored annually, and WeForest’s finances are audited every year to ensure no double-counting.

Carbon offset costs: Costs are determined after initial contact.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their website to contact a representative and get your carbon offsets.

4

Reforest’Action: Tackling Deforestation on a Global Level

Screenshot of the reforest'ACTION front page

Reforest’Action was founded in 2010 by Stéphane Hallaire as a French crowdplanting company. Today, they have financed more than 20 million trees in 40 different countries in order to preserve, restore, and create forests on a global scale.

“Because the forest is the best solution for climate and biodiversity”

Reforest’Action

Project overview: Reforest’Action currently has active reforestation/afforestation projects in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. An example afforestation project is the reforestation of degraded pastures in Kuzuko (South Africa), which plants Spekboom, a native tree species, on lands affected by desertification.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Reforest’Action’s projects are third-party verified by Ecocert Environnement, a leader in the field of forestry and reforestation.

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $20 per 1,000kg of CO2 for a direct carbon offset or an offset subscription. You can also plant or gift trees at a cost of $3.30 per tree

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their carbon footprint calculator to purchase your carbon offsets. Reforest’Action also offers the option to plant trees, gift trees, or subscribe to a monthly plan.

5

Ecologi: Where Carbon Reduction Partners with Tree Planting

Screenshot of the Ecologi front page

Ecologi was founded in 2019 by Elliot Coad, Lucy Jack, and Alex Price as an answer to the question “what if I put the money from my morning coffee into climate action”? Today they have funded over 57 million trees, avoided over 2 million tons of carbon, and continue to enable everyday people to tackle the current climate crisis via reforestation and carbon offsetting projects.

“For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per week you can become climate positive.”

Ecologi

Project overview: When you purchase carbon offsets through Ecologi, trees are planted as a bonus, because it takes years for trees to mature and sequester carbon in large quantities. Examples of their afforestation projects include the restoring degraded land in Senegal project, which aims to restore 245 hectares (600 acres) of desertified land, and the forest plantation on degraded grassland in Uruguay project, which creates forests on lands historically used for beef cattle grazing. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Ecologi’s projects are certified by either the Gold Standard or the Verified Carbon Standard. Their tree planting partners include Eden Reforestation Projects, One Tree Planted, and Trees for the Future, all of which are included in our list of the Best Charities for Reforestation. And they also have an interactive google sheet where you can check when, where, and how many trees are planted through their platform. 

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $6.04 per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset. Ecologi has a personal offset plan where you choose how many trees get planted (12, 24, or 48) for a price ($10.50, $21, or $42 per month). And if you scroll further down, you can plant 1 extra tree in the US for only $1.20 per month

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit Ecologi’s website to select your personal carbon offset plan and get your carbon offsets.

6

One Tree Planted: A Non-Profit Focused On Global Reforestation

Screenshot of the OneTree Planted front page

One Tree Planted was founded in 2014 by Matt Hill as a way to make it easier for individuals and businesses to aid in environmental conservation and reforestation across the globe. Today, they have planted over 40 million trees in more than 47 countries.

“One dollar. One tree. One planet.”

One Tree Planted

Carbon offset overview: One Tree Planted is a nonprofit environmental organization that plants trees in North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. An example afforestation offset project includes afforestation in Iceland. The project aims to reforest a 150 hectare area previously degraded by over-grazing. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: One Tree Planted’s offsets are certified by the Climate Action Reserve and are retired on a monthly basis

Carbon offset costs: One Tree Planted offers 3 offset options that offset 10, 20, and 30 tons of CO2 at a cost of $20 per 1,000kg of CO2.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their website to view their plans and purchase your carbon offsets.

7

Carbonfund: Go Carbon Neutral

Screenshot of the Carbonfund front page

Carbonfund was founded in 2003 by Eric Carlson to make it easy for any individual, business, or organization to reduce and offset their climate impact. Today, they have been incorporated into ClimeCo and provide verified energy efficiency, renewable energy, and forestry carbon offsets for individuals and businesses.

“Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.”

Carbonfund

Project overview: Carbonfund supports the Panama Reforestation Project, which can be classified as afforestation because it aims to reforest 25,000 acres of abandoned cattle pastures along the pacific coast of Panama. Since 2005, the project has planted more than 1.9 million trees over 7,000 acres.

Carbon offset effectiveness: The Panama Reforestation Project is certified by the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standard and the Gold Standard

Carbon offset costs: Individual carbon offsets range from $16.25-$17.16 per 1,000kg of CO2, small business carbon offsets range from $390-$1,560 per year (dependent on the number of employees), and large business carbon offset costs are evaluated after personal contact.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their webpage to learn more about their reforestation/afforestation projects and purchase your carbon offsets. You can also visit Carbonfund’s Carbonfree® Partner Program webpage to learn more about their small and large business options.

8

myclimate: Shaping the Future

Screenshot of the myclimate front page

myclimate was founded in 2002 by Renat Heuberger, Thomas Camerata and Patrick BĂĽrgi as an international climate organization with Swiss roots. Today, they have expanded to 45 countries and work with companies of all sizes, public administrations, non-profit organizations, and private individuals to provide high-quality carbon offset projects with quantifiable climate protection. 

“myclimate is your partner for effective climate protection – locally and globally”

Myclimate

Carbon offset overview: myclimate provides individual carbon offsets for flights, cars, cruises, events, and your household. Purchases support afforestation projects including Community Reforestation in Nicaragua, which can also be classified as afforestation. The project contains three types of plantations: mixed species, coffee agroforestry, and silvopastoral planting (planting trees in areas used for cattle breeding).

Carbon offset effectiveness: myclimate projects are certified according to either the Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, or Plan Vivo and contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $30 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset for an individual carbon offset and $23 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset for a monthly, quarterly, or annual offset subscription.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their website to get your carbon offsets. You can also enroll in a subscription or make a donation to myclimate’s mission by either contributing a certain dollar amount or offsetting a certain number of kg of CO2.

9

Wren: Your All-In-One Climate Subscription

Screenshot of the wren front page

Wren was founded in 2019 by Landon Brand, Mimi Tran Zambetti, and Ben Stanfield as a climate-conscious company formulated to be your on-ramp to climate action. Today, they have offset over 160 thousand tons of CO2 in 4 countries. Their mission is to help reverse the climate crisis. 

“Climate change is the largest crisis humanity has ever faced. But we can fix it.”

Wren

Carbon offset overview: Wren has a carbon footprint calculator which takes into account various information to give you 3 different carbon offset subscriptions. Their community tree planting project is a reforestation/afforestation project that pays farmers in East Africa to plant trees on farmland. So far, the project has planted over 2 million trees.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Wren’s carbon offsets are permanent, additional, only counted once, and based on peer-reviewed science.

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $23 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset. You can also choose a one-time offset at a cost of $25 per 1,000kg of CO2. The cost varies because it depends on your carbon footprint and the cost of removing that carbon from the atmosphere.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their carbon calculator webpage to purchase your carbon offsets.

10

Terrapass: Carbon Offsets for Individuals and Businesses

Screenshot of the terrapass front page

Terrapass was founded in 2004 by Dr. Karl Ulrich to reduce as many carbon emissions as possible via the use of education, online tools, carbon offsets, and renewable energy. Today, they provide verified carbon offsets and renewable energy credits for renewable energy, landfill gas capture, and forestry projects.

“Restore the balance.”

Terrapass

Carbon offset overview: Terrapass has many options for individuals and businesses looking to offset their carbon footprint. An example afforestation project is the Québec Afforestation/Reforestation project, which plants new tree plantations.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Terrapass only purchases carbon offsets that have been generated within the last 5 years, and they use the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve to help ensure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects.

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $16.51-$17.63 per 1,000kg of CO2 for individuals, and $16.99 per 1,000kg of CO2 for businesses.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can visit their website to purchase your carbon offsets.

How Effective and Efficient Are Afforestation Carbon Offsets

In terms of effectiveness, afforestation carbon offsets mitigate climate change because they reinforce our terrestrial carbon sinks; however, they often lack permanence, do not reduce carbon emissions immediately, and do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

In terms of efficiency, afforestation carbon offsets are relatively cost-effective and can continue to avoid CO2 emissions after their project life span; however, they are also less efficient than restoring or protecting already existing forests.

Afforestation carbon offsets are effective at mitigating climate change because they reinforce one of our largest carbon sinks capable of absorbing a net 7.6 bt of CO2 per year.

However, afforestation carbon offsets can also lack effectiveness because they:

Afforestation carbon offsets are efficient at reducing CO2 emissions because they:

  • Are relatively cost-effective when compared to other methods of carbon emission reduction
  • Can continue to reduce carbon emissions long after the trees have been planted.

However, afforestation carbon offsets can also lack efficiency because they are more time and cost intensive than protecting or restoring previously existing forests.

Afforestation carbon offsets also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing. This occurs when emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, and the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality, they are not. This is why we should first reduce our emissions before relying on offsets.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about how effective and efficient afforestation carbon offsets are? Check out the full article here: “How Effective and Efficient Are Afforestation Carbon Offsets? Here Are the Facts”

What Are The 4 Pros and 4 Cons of Afforestation Carbon Offsets

Afforestation carbon offsets reinforce our terrestrial carbon sinks, are relatively cost-effective, help maintain the water cycle, and can help offset carbon emissions that can’t be reduced otherwise. 

However, afforestation offsets also often lack permanence, do not reduce carbon emissions immediately, can negatively impact previously established ecosystems, and do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the pros and cons of afforestation offsets? Check out the full article here: “Afforestation Carbon Offsets: All Pros and Cons Explained”

What Are the 4 Pros of Afforestation Carbon Offsets

Afforestation carbon offsets have various pros that make them effective at absorbing carbon from our atmosphere.

4 Pros of Afforestation Carbon OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: Afforestation offsets reinforce our terrestrial carbon sinksForests act as a giant carbon sink capable of absorbing a net 7.6 bt of CO2 per year and storing it in their leaves, trunks, roots, and surrounding soil.
#2: Afforestation offsets are relatively cost-effectiveAfforestation carbon offsets themselves are typically more cost-effective than other categories of carbon offsets. For example, afforestation offsets from leading providers (e.g., The Arbor Day Foundation, Reforest’Action, Ecologi) cost less than $50 per ton of CO2 offset. 
#3: Afforestation offsets help maintain the water cycleTrees capture, store, and use rainfall which aids in maintaining water quality and regulating the natural water cycle. When it rains, trees slow down the flow of water by absorbing it into the ground. This filters pollution and reduces flooding risks.
#4: Afforestation offsets allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individuallyAfforestation carbon offsets allow us to reduce emissions from activities where sustainable alternatives are not yet widely available. 

What Are the 4 Cons of Afforestation Carbon Offsets

Understanding the drawbacks of afforestation carbon offsets is important when implementing this strategy on a large scale in order to mitigate climate change.

4 Cons of Afforestation Carbon OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: Afforestation offsets often lack permanenceAfforestation offsets often lack permanence because they are reversible. Trees die naturally, afforestation can introduce invasive species, and environmental disasters such as floods, fires, changes in land use, and climate change itself can negate any permanence.
#2: Afforestation offsets do not reduce carbon emissions immediatelyCarbon emission reductions are delayed when you plant new forests because you have to wait around 20 years for the trees to reach maturity before they can begin to reduce significant amounts of carbon emissions.
#3: Afforestation offsets can negatively alter previously established ecosystemsNot all ecosystems are conducive to afforestation. Afforestation can introduce invasive species, reduce biodiversity, and alter the ecosystem’s natural balance if not planned properly.
#4: Afforestation offsets do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashingIf emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, this could lead to greenwashing, when the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality, they are not. 

How Can Afforestation Carbon Offsets Help Mitigate Climate Change

Climate change is a severe and long-term consequence of fossil fuel combustion. Afforestation carbon offsets can help mitigate climate change because the more trees we plant, the more CO2 they can absorb from our atmosphere. Carbon in our atmosphere can, if left untreated, remain there for tens of thousands of years and exacerbate the negative effects of climate change.

How is Climate Change Defined

Climate change is arguably the most severe, long-term global impact of fossil fuel combustion. Every year, approximately 33 billion tons (bt) of CO2 are emitted from burning fossil fuels. The carbon found in fossil fuels reacts with oxygen in the air to produce CO2

“Climate change: changes in the earth’s weather, including changes in temperature, wind patterns and rainfall, especially the increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere that is caused by the increase of particular gasses, especially carbon dioxide.”

Oxford Dictionary

Atmospheric CO2 fuels climate change, which results in global warming. When CO2 and other air pollutants absorb sunlight and solar radiation in the atmosphere, it traps the heat and acts as an insulator for the planet. Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has risen a little more than 1 degree Celsius (C), or 2 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Between 1880-1980 the global temperature rose by 0.07C every 10 years. This rate has more than doubled since 1981, with a current global annual temperature rise of 0.18C, or 0.32F, for every 10 years. 

As outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we must cut current GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050

How Do Carbon Offsets Generally Help Mitigate Climate Change

Levels of carbon in our atmosphere that cause climate change have increased as a result of human emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. The global average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today registers at over 400 parts per million. Carbon offsets can help prevent these levels from increasing even more.

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere

Carbon offsets that meet key criteria and verified project standards, are additional and permanent, and are a part of projects that are carried out until the end of their lifespan have the best chance of reducing carbon emissions and therefore reducing climate change. 

When we offset CO2 we also slow the rate of global temperature rise, which in turn minimizes the effects of climate change. 

How Do Afforestation Carbon Offsets Specifically Help Mitigate Climate Change

Afforestation offsets specifically help mitigate climate change because they plant more trees, and trees remove CO2 from the air as they grow. By increasing the number of trees on our planet, we increase the amount of carbon they are capable of storing. The more carbon our forests can sequester, the less carbon there is in our atmosphere. And because higher levels of carbon exacerbate global warming, less is better.

Final Thoughts

The Arbor Day Foundation, Climate Impact Partners, and WeForest are the best afforestation (tree planting) carbon offsets. Reforest’Action, Ecologi, One Tree Planted, and Carbonfund restore degraded lands globally, whereas myclimate, Wren, and Terrapass offer a variety of carbon offsets for individuals and businesses that include afforestation projects. 

Afforestation offsets plant trees in areas where that were not recently forested, helping to increase the total amount of trees worldwide and bolster one of our largest carbon sinks. But for all of the good carbon offsets can instigate, they should not be seen as the only solution to climate change. They are effective at reducing CO2 in the short term, but in the long term, they fail to reduce CO2 enough. 

When used in conjunction with direct CO2 reduction measures, carbon offsetting can be much more effective. We should reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible first, and only then choose the most effective carbon offsets.

Stay impactful,

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