While new carbon-absorbing technologies continue to develop, the world cannot ignore nature’s own ability to store the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Recently, the Nature Conservancy announced a transformative $100 million gift from the Bezos Earth Fund that will further enable us and our partners to focus on what nature can do to help us tackle climate change.
Our science shows that improved land management coupled with increased conservation and restoration of landscapes and wetlands can have an effect equivalent to the world ceasing to burn oil. These natural climate solutions (NCS) are cost-effective tools that can help countries meet their Paris Agreement commitments.
Significantly, the new funds will help us expand our pioneering work developing and implementing NCS and accelerate the deployment of these insights into scalable, on-the-ground projects that make a lasting impact.
Specifically, the gift from the Bezos Earth Fund will support these three initiatives:
Catalyzing Natural Climate Solutions
In 2017, TNC scientists brought NCS into the spotlight by showing how nature can cost-effectively capture 11 billion metric tons of CO2e per year, a third of the solution needed to stabilize our climate.
However, wide adoption of NCS remains limited by still-developing guidance to further answer key questions:
- Which actions are most effective and where?
- How much will it cost to activate these actions?
- What are their tradeoffs and potential benefits?
- How do we rapidly measure and scale up successful models?
To address these questions and inform and accelerate targeted, cost-effective NCS action, we will develop practical guidance on how and where NCS action should be deployed by developing NCS Playbooks and the NCS Action Mapper: a centralized interactive mapping platform and decision tool.
A Promising Solution in Northwest India’s Soil
Northwest India is the most productive rice and wheat growing area in South Asia. Traditional practice for farmers is to burn rice crop residue before preparing fields for wheat planting; but the practice emits dangerous greenhouse gasses, reduces soil fertility and hydrology, and contributes to nearly half of Delhi’s air pollution on some days, endangering the health of almost 70 million people.
TNC is working with partners including the Borlaug Institute for South Asia to eliminate the practice of burning crop residue in northwest India, and there is a promising solution that can cut that number in half by 2023.
India: Home to 8% of Earth's Biodiversity
Together with partners, we are working to support India’s vision of “developing without destruction” by finding science-led solutions at the interface of conservation and development.
The Happy Seeder is a machine that mulches farm residue and sows seeds for the next crop directly into the mulched soil, providing a no-burn, no-till approach that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 80 percent and saves 500,000 liters of water per hectare.
It is also up to 20 percent more profitable for farmers than burning, but it is not yet widely recognized as an option and TNC is working to change that.
A major barrier is influencing communities to move away from the long-standing traditional practice of sowing on a clean seed bed; the Happy Seeder is a new technology and training on its proper use is urgently needed to ensure farmers experience positive results quickly and, therefore, and adopt it. Our work is focused on demonstrating this technology and promoting it to farmers.
Tackling climate change in Northwest India requires a rare combination: local staff who understand the cultural & economic context of communities who stand to benefit from this technology, as well as policy & science expertise.
Protecting Living Carbon Reserves in The Emerald Edge
North America’s Emerald Edge, including the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound, Great Bear, Olympic, and Tongass, makes up the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. This rich forestland is also one of the most productive storers of carbon in the world.
To optimize the region’s carbon mitigation potential and ensure a sustainable future for local communities, TNC (which operates under the name Nature United in Canada) will work closely with key government and Indigenous partners to sustainably conserve these lands.
In Clayoquot Sound, we are supporting three First Nations—the Ahousaht, Hesquiaht and Tla-o-qui-aht—to advance their vision and negotiate a new land use agreement with the British Columbia government. This agreement will support the First Nations’ economies into the future and transition areas currently subject to timber concessions into newly-created protected areas and forestry zones.
To scale climate mitigation work, we will partner with Native Tribes in Washington and Alaska and with First Nations in British Columbia, along with remote sensing experts, to identify opportunities to protect living carbon reserves.