Pilot project aims to protect grasslands through carbon offset market program

Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) is launching a pilot project to help conserve native grasslands.

The two-year pilot project, titled “Retaining Canada’s Grasslands Using Carbon Offset Markets,” will allow landowners and ranchers to generate carbon offsets for carbon stored in conserved grasslands in Canada, says the organization.

Qualifying land owners who sign a land conservation agreement that protects grasslands through the project will be able to generate additional revenue through carbon offsets.

Funding has been provided through the AgriAssurance Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, with industry funding from Shell Canada. The project will be led by CFGA and is supported by a diverse group of partners, that will contribute knowledge and in-kind resources.

Within the project, a carbon offset protocol will be tested and refined, with the goal to understand the challenges and opportunities associated with an avoided conversion of grasslands program. Carbon offset protocols exist in some jurisdictions that recognize the climate benefits associated with avoiding soil tillage, or changing livestock feed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, produced through digestion.

“This new protocol recognizes the significant contributions made by the ranching community when they choose to conserve grasslands at risk of conversion to crop production or other forms of development that significantly disturb the soil,” says Cedric MacLeod, executive director of CFGA. “Although it’s early days, the initiative could play an important role in protecting grasslands in Canada by compensating landowners for responsible stewardship of the land.”

The pilot project will help identify eligibility requirements, value propositions, and land conservation agreement models for landowners, using lower cost, remote sensing tools to streamline monitoring and verification requirements.

Among supports of the project are:

  • Alberta Beef Producers Association;
  • Radicle Balance;
  • Ducks Unlimited Canada;
  • Legacy Land Trust Society;
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada;
  • Southern Alberta Land Trust Society;
  • Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association;
  • Brightspot Climate
  • Climate Action Reserve;
  • Regrow; and,
  • Viresco Solutions, Inc.