|EERC and Ducks Unlimited announce carbon credit program|
The Energy & Environmental Research Center's (EERC's) Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership and Ducks Unlimited, Inc., a leading waterfowl conservation organization and a PCOR Partnership partner, announce the creation of a major carbon offset program.
The goal of the program is to secure native and planted grasslands, reducing negative impacts on duck and other wildlife habitats, and to ensure that existing soil carbon will not be exposed to the atmosphere, helping mitigate the effects of climate change.
"Plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. As plant roots die, the carbon molecules remain permanently stored in the soil," said EERC Senior Research Advisor Ed Steadman. "Ducks Unlimited will pay landowners for offsetting the amount of CO2 released into the air from other human sources."
Participating landowners can enroll their native prairie or expired Conservation Reserve Program land in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Grassland Easement Program, which prohibits the grassland from being plowed. This ensures that the existing soil carbon remains "sequestered" and is prevented from reentering the atmosphere as CO2. This form of CO2 sequestration is called terrestrial sequestration, one focus of the PCOR Partnership.
When the Fish and Wildlife Service secures the easement, Ducks Unlimited simultaneously purchases carbon rights on the eased land. Those rights are bundled and conveyed to the Eco Products Fund (EPF), which in turn will sell the credits in the voluntary carbon market. EPF is a major funding partner in the project.
"Some of the most promising land management practices for enhancing carbon accumulations in soils, promoting terrestrial sequestration, also improve the quantity and quality of waterfowl habitat," said Barry Botnen, EERC research scientist.
Through the carbon credit program, Ducks Unlimited will provide a substantial one-time payment to landowners who enroll and pass on the carbon rights under the eased acres to Ducks Unlimited.
"Climate change will have a significant impact on ducks. In addition, ducks need large expanses of grassland for successful nesting," said Jim Ringelman, director of Conservation Programs, Ducks Unlimited. "With the emergence of new markets for carbon credits, we are attempting to raise additional funds for habitat conservation through the sale of carbon offsets."
The PCOR Partnership is one of seven regional partnerships funded by the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program. Since its inception in 2003, the PCOR Partnership has brought together more than 85 partners representing public agencies, utilities, oil and gas companies, engineering firms, associations and nonprofit organizations, and universities. Ducks Unlimited is part of the PCOR Partnership team researching best management practices for the terrestrial field validation test over the course of the PCOR Partnership's Programmatic efforts. -- EERC.