Conservation goes hand in hand with climate change

Misty Darkwoods forest, BC (Photo by Bruce Kirkby)

Misty Darkwoods forest, BC (Photo by Bruce Kirkby)

April 22, 2018 | by Rob Wilson

Few issues these days loom as large as the threats posed by climate change. Through our conservation and stewardship work on some of Canada’s most threatened landscapes, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is committed to addressing climate change and its effects wherever possible.

NCC faces many of the challenges presented by climate change every single day. For example, this may include conserving lands in order to protect important carbon sinks (that is, lands that store large amounts of carbon in the trees, soils and wetlands). Other examples include creating linkages between protected areas to allow species to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Our work on conserved landscapes offers partner organizations, including many of the world’s leading companies, an opportunity to support these efforts. One of the most innovative and creative ways that some companies have chosen to support this work is through the purchase of carbon credits ― often called carbon offsets ― from one of NCC’s signature conservation properties.

At 55,037 hectares, NCC’s Darkwoods project in British Columbia was at its time Canada’s largest private conservation project. This property protects critical habitat for many species of plants and animals. However, it is also one of North America’s largest forestry carbon projects. Thanks to the permanent protection of old-growth forest and a variety of other forest types, Darkwoods stores and continues to capture an enormous amount of carbon each year.

Darkwoods mountains, BC (Photo by Bruce Kirkby)

Darkwoods mountains, BC (Photo by Bruce Kirkby)

Nearly 10 years ago, NCC chose to develop a forest carbon project on Darkwoods. The project is certified by the world’s leading carbon standard used by many project developers to certify projects in the voluntary marketplace ― the Verified Carbon Standard. Organizations and companies that share NCC’s vision can offset their own greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits from the Darkwoods project. Proof Inc., formerly known as Environics Communications, has faithfully purchased carbon offsets from the Darkwoods project for many years. In doing so, Proof, and others with similar philosophies, demonstrates climate change leadership. By investing in this program, these organizations support NCC’s important conservation work and the ongoing stewardship of the Darkwoods project.

Carbon credits are mainly designed to offset an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions, either voluntarily or sometimes as required under provincial regulations. Meanwhile, NCC’s carbon credits also ensure the protection of other equally important co-benefits that many of us sometimes take for granted.

Darkwoods, BC (Photo by Gordon MacPherson)

Darkwoods, BC (Photo by Gordon MacPherson)

Conserving carbon sinks means that many other important ecological goods and services provided by these lands are also conserved. By protecting these lands and watersheds, we are able, in turn, to ensure that the many services they provide will be able to continue long into the future. This includes services like water purification and filtration, improved air quality or flood control. It can also include the conservation of habitat for threatened species and many recreational opportunities. A number of these co-benefits have been certified for Darkwoods under an accompanying international standard known as the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard. Darkwoods has been awarded a Gold Level certification for the project’s exceptional biodiversity values.

None of this would be possible without the financial support of organizations like Proof Inc. and many others who purchase carbon offsets from the Darkwoods carbon project. NCC is grateful for the climate change leadership that these organizations have chosen to demonstrate and their accompanying support for the important conservation work of our organization.

Rob Wilson (Photo by Brian Yungblut)

About the Author

Rob Wilson is the director of conservation finance for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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