Climate Change / Expert Perspectives / Forestry / Rainforest Alliance

A Strategy for Conserving Forests and Curbing Climate Change

Last week, Janice O’Brien — the Rainforest Alliance’s verification services and chain-of-custody associate in Canada — headed to Vancouver to announce the launch of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project.  Here, Janice talks about the new project, and explains the importance of projects like Darkwoods…

Photo Credit: The Nature Conservancy of Canada

Forest carbon projects are designed to store additional carbon and conserve forestlands — in doing so, they help to combat climate change.  To date, most forest carbon projects have taken place in the tropics; the Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project is an example of a successful project where the sale of carbon credits is helping to mitigate global climate change and conserve northern forests.

So what was my role with the project? I was a member of the independent team that audited the project to ensure its conformance with the Verified Carbon Standards’ strict criteria for project design and credible carbon accounting. At the launch, I shared a few key details about the projects significance…

  • Covering over 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of land and sequestering/avoiding 849,016 tons of C02 emissions from 2008 to 2010, the project is truly large in scale. In fact, it’s the biggest project to have achieved verified emissions reductions in North America.
  • The project’s focus on Improved Forest Management helps show other responsibly managed forestry operations that they can benefit from carbon finance, too. In Canada, millions of hectares of forestlands are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards for responsible forestry. We’re hopeful that some will follow in the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s footsteps and launch forest carbon projects, too.
  • As I discovered onsite, the project protects an area of great ecological significance. It serves as habitat for an endangered herd of mountain caribou, features the highest diversity of coniferous tree species in British Columbia, and is a key biodiversity corridor that connects three other protected areas.

Photo Credit: The Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Rainforest Alliance both validated (evaluated and approved) the project, and assessed the new methodology (developed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, 3 GreenTree Ecosystem Services and ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates) that the project uses to measure and monitor the carbon it has sequestered.

As one of the first and largest forest carbon projects in North America, the Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project can serve as an important example for forest owners throughout temperate and boreal forest regions. I sincerely hope that other forest owners will follow the project’s example and begin to explore the climate change mitigation potential of their forests.

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