Moncton, New Brunswick (November 12, 2019) -
Things just got real for Canada's grasslands and producers.
The vast, untapped international potential for grassland conservation and producer prosperity linked arms for the first-time ever in Canada with the recent announcement that the USA-based Climate Action Reserve (CAR) board of directors had adopted the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA)'s Canada Grassland Project Protocol (CGPP). The move will be a critical foundation for growing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction opportunities in Canada and creating new financial incentives for producers around the conservation of grasslands.
"This is an exciting first step in Canada for recognizing the significant contribution Canadian producers and Canadian grasslands are making to climate change mitigation through soil carbon sequestration," says Cedric MacLeod, CFGA's executive director. "I'm proud of the leadership role that the CFGA has played and the opportunity to bring this protocol to Canadian producers for the first time ever.
"However, this is only a first step towards helping to conserve Canadian grasslands and monetizing the carbon stored in the soils below them," he added. "This is also an opportunity to communicate with Canadians about why grassland conservation is so crucial to achieving many of the ecological and environmental conservation goals shared by many Canadians."
MacLeod says the CFGA CAR protocol will be especially significant for producers and grasslands on Canada's Northern Great Plains where the continued loss of grasslands has been identified as a major societal concern and factor impacting community resiliency, attributing to biodiversity declines and susceptibility to extreme weather events. The urgency to reverse the accelerating conversion rates of these valuable grasslands is paramount. And, so too, is the producer's need to make a living off the land.
"With this protocol in the mix, we've got big plans going forward. This is a significant, first step toward keeping grasslands on the land," says MacLeod. "Development of the protocol involved extensive research, incorporation of existing Canadian rating systems and working group feedback to produce a protocol that lowers barriers for participation for land owners while maintaining the standards for rigour and integrity that are required for all Reserve protocols."
Eligible lands in the CFGA CGPP are private and tribal lands that demonstrate clear ownership and at least 10 years of continuous grassland cover. Projects may receive credits for up to 30 years. The process gained traction after the CAR board of directors adopted the CGPP Version 1.0, establishing a foundation for growing GHG emissions reduction opportunities in Canada and creating new financial incentives for the conservation of grassland. The offset protocol provides a standardized approach for quantifying, monitoring and verifying the GHG reductions from the avoided conversion of grassland to cropland in Canada. The protocol adaptation process initially began under contract with the Province of Ontario and its completion was made possible by support from the CFGA and Viresco Solutions.
"This is a significant development for advancing offsets in Canada and expanding participation across the continent," says Linda Adams, chair of the CAR board of directors. "This protocol wouldn't have been developed and adopted today if it hadn't been for the steadfast support of and interest from Canadian groups that saw the value and importance in this opportunity. We were both proud and appreciative to work in collaboration with these leaders, including the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association."
The CGPP was modeled off the US Grassland Project Protocol V2.0 and adapted to conditions in Canada. To assist with making Canadian grassland projects more accessible, the CGPP allows project aggregation through "cooperatives" to reduce transaction.