Monday, September 6, 2010

Greenhouse Gas Action Plan for Tidal Wetlands


Restore America’s Estuaries Releases Greenhouse Gas Action Plan for Tidal Wetlands

Blue Ribbon Panel Issues Report on Development of National Greenhouse Gas Offset Protocol


WASHINGTON / August 30, 2010—Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) announced today that it has released an action plan that will speed the creation of a greenhouse gas offset protocol for coastal tidal wetlands.

RAE’s “Action Plan for the Development of a National Greenhouse Gas Offset Protocol for Tidal Wetlands Restoration and Management,” developed by a National Blue Ribbon Panel of national experts in wetlands science, carbon markets, and public policy, examines the scientific, methodological, and policy hurdles that still must be overcome, and charts a “roadmap” for the next phase of offset protocol development.

“We know that coastal tidal wetlands sequester carbon dioxide at impressive rates, both in the soil and as biomass,” said Dr. Stephen Crooks, Blue Ribbon Panel chair and director of Climate Change Services for Philip William and Associates (PWA), an environmental hydrology firm headquartered in San Francisco. “We intend to answer the remaining questions surrounding the creation of an offset protocol, quantify sequestration rates across a variety of different coastal tidal wetland ecosystems, and make those findings available to investors in national and international carbon trading markets. This is truly historic.”

The plan—the product of a year-long collaboration capped by an intensive three-day workshop convened by Restore America’s Estuaries in April 2010—marks the first-ever attempt to make tidal wetlands restoration and management projects integral parts of commercial carbon offset planning, strategy, and investment through the development of a GHG offset protocol.

Among the plan’s goals are procedures for quantifying and monitoring GHG flux and sequestration, ensuring that the sequestration is not reversed, and guidelines for determining the eligibility of projects under the offset protocol.

Key recommendations include the establishment of four Working Groups dealing with the following criteria:

• Eligible Project Activities (avoided wetland loss, wetland restoration, wetland enhancement, and wetland creation);

• Eligibility Criteria (guidelines for project inclusion);

• Permanence (efficacy and durability of wetland projects); and

• Quantification (metrics, methodologies, and monitoring associated with carbon sequestration in wetlands projects)

The plan also calls for geographic case studies across different wetland ecosystem types to provide real-world “laboratories” for concepts and recommendations advanced by the panel. Proposed study sites include:

• Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (managed, freshwater tidal marsh);

• Mississippi Delta (large deltaic system);

• Coastal salt marsh (location TBD)

“Preserving and restoring some of America’s most threatened ecosystems—coastal tidal wetlands—may be among the best ways of mitigating greenhouse emissions that fuel global warming and climate change,” said Jeff Benoit, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. “Increased investment in wetlands protection and restoration gained through greenhouse gas offset markets will provide an added benefit of helping vulnerable coastal areas adapt to the impacts of future climate change.”

Sea-level rise, development, pollution, and other factors destroy thousands of acres of coastal wetlands in the United States every year. Scientists agree that tidal wetlands and estuaries are key components in ensuring biodiversity and coastal resiliency in the face of rising sea levels.

The authors and other scientific and policy experts will be discussing the Action Plan and its implications for coastal tidal wetlands restoration and management during a special session of the 5th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration, November 15th, in Galveston, Texas. Information is available at www.estuaries.org/conference.

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