The Nature Conservancy today announced that they have registered the first two Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) afforestation / reforestation projects on private lands in North America – the Tensas River Basin Project in Franklin Parish, Louisiana and the Bayou Bartholomew Project in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.
The Conservancy developed and implemented both afforestation projects, with project design assistance provided by TerraCarbon, LLC. The projects were validated by accredited third-party auditor Rainforest Alliance to meet VCS guidelines for forest carbon projects, and have been registered through VCS on the Markit Environmental Registry and VCS Project Database.
“This is an important milestone for combating carbon pollution through forest conservation,” said Greg Fishbein, The Nature Conservancy’s Managing Director for Forest Carbon. “Projects like these demonstrate a commitment by the private sector to reduce their net emissions using carbon offsets that meet rigorous third-party standards and transparent auditing procedures.”
Scott Settelmyer, Managing Director for TerraCarbon LLC added, “The use of rigorous, scientifically-based methodologies for carbon accounting in the voluntary market is an important harbinger of their application in future compliance markets, and we are proud to collaborate with the Conservancy on the successful validation of these projects under VCS guidelines.”
The Conservancy acquired the Tensas River Basin property in 2007 to implement an afforestation project on former agricultural land, using a $1 million donation from Delta Air Lines, and contributions provided by Delta’s customers to offset emissions from their airline flights, as well as additional funds from other corporate and individual Conservancy supporters.
The Bayou Bartholomew property was purchased in 2009 by the Conservancy to implement an afforestation project on former pastureland and to restore forest continuity with the adjacent Chemin-a-Haut State Park. Funding provided by REI Adventures, the adventure travel business of the national gear and apparel retailer, helped to support the forest restoration, and will result in the retirement of offsets on behalf of REI Adventures. The Conservancy is working with the state of Louisiana to transfer the property as an addition to the adjacent state park.
Both projects will remain forested and protected from development for the benefit of future generations, under restrictions contained within conservation easements placed on the properties and held by the Conservancy. Public or private landowners with ownership interests in the properties will retain rights to limited recreational uses that do not disturb the forest carbon stocks.
Richard Martin, Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana noted, “Historically in this region, deforestation has left islands of remnant forests surrounded by a sea of agriculture. In addition to the carbon benefits, these projects serve to restore larger blocks of forest by reforesting marginal agricultural lands and connecting smaller fragments of existing forest. These efforts create important habitat and travel corridors for species like the federally threatened Louisiana Black Bear and migratory birds. These two river basins also host some of the most biologically important freshwater ecosystems in the Southeast, and additional forest buffers can help reduce nutrient runoff and sedimentation from adjacent agricultural lands.”
For several years, the Tensas River Basin Project was the source of carbon offsets for the Nature Conservancy’s Voluntary Online Carbon Offsets Program. Now fully funded with a permanent endowment to ensure continued protection of the carbon stored on the land, the project has since been retired from the program, and replaced with the Conservancy’s recently VCS-validated and verified Rio Bravo Climate Action Project in Belize, which was designed to reduce emissions from deforestation.
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The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.