iNVEZZ.com: Global Landscapes Benefit from Grassland Carbon Credits

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iNVEZZ.com (http://invezz.com) reports that USDA-backed Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program may purchase carbon credits from ranchers as an incentive to preserve grassland. New research supports claim that grassland, much like forests, can sequester carbon dioxide.

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The CIG project may offer quite an innovative approach to preserve natural prairie landscapes instead of ravaging them for agricultural purposes. Similar conservation projects have been in place for forestry regions for years.

U.S. nonprofit Ducks Unlimited announced this week the launch of a new program backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG), which aims at preserving natural grassland areas across the Northern Plains from being altered by agricultural practices. The grant is designed to compensate ranchers, including the possibility of buying carbon credits earned through landscape conservation efforts. If natural greenfields, just like forests, become widely recognized for their potential to act as carbon sinks, a new offset market will open possibilities for sustainable projects in the land sector, claims UK carbon market portal http://www.reddcarboncredits.co.uk/2011/grass-roots-carbon-credits.

The CIG program is still in its planning and research stages, and the finances totalling over $205,000 are yet to be allocated. Environment experts, led by biologist and environmental activist Randal Dell, will be working on examining soil samples and using economic models and Geographic Information Systems to figure out ways of converting CO2 amounts stored in soil into carbon credits. They will also submit their project for evaluation and certification to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Once approved, the offset’s verified carbon credits can be monetized.

“The CIG project may offer quite an innovative approach to preserve natural prairie landscapes instead of ravaging them for agricultural purposes. Similar conservation projects have been in place for forestry regions for years. The sequestration capacity of grassland, on the other hand, is still in the early stages of being researched and verified”, said John Adam of DEZZ, the digital media company operating reddcarboncredits.co.uk. “If enough in-depth analyses show that prairies are effective in fighting climate change and, as such, have more environmental value intact than cultivated, the investment opportunities for offset projects in the area of land preservation may increase exponentially.”

invezz.com explains that in January of this year, a team of researchers from North Carolina State University conducted a study on grassland carbon sequestration. The results, which were published in the Nature journal, show that areas with increased carbon levels in the atmosphere also had more carbon stored in the soil. According to the lead researcher, grassland’s soil microbes are highly responsive to changes in carbon and nitrogen levels. When carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of a grassland ecosystem rise, they increase the growth rate of grassland plants. Plants use nitrogen to grow, so the exhilarated growth process speeds up nitrogen extraction from the soil. Microbes also need nitrogen to decompose dead plant material, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Depletion of nitrogen in the soil means less plant decomposition and minimized levels of CO2 being released. Therefore, the growing plants absorb carbon dioxide at levels greater than emissions from dead plant decomposition, leading to carbon sequestration in the specific ecosystem.

Implementing a quantifying method for the carbon sequestration capacity of grassland means, as the CIG project is trying to do, means that pretty soon there will be a new venue for earning carbon credits without compromising natural landscapes and without the use of costly labor- and energy-intensive practices. Landowners can virtually harvest carbon credits directly from their land, no pesticides necessary. Whether revenue from these credits will be as rewarding as profits from growing crops is yet to be determined.

To read the full article and learn more about how you can invest in the global carbon markets, visit http://www.invezz.com/

About Dezz
Dezz is a UK-based boutique digital media company providing original and reliable up-to-date information in the area of carbon credit trading and sustainable investments to large investment company decision makers, NGOs and to eco-minded individuals.

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John Adam
Dezz Ltd
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