Adopted in 2019 by the U.S.-based Climate Action Reserve (CAR), the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA)’s Canada Grassland Protocol Project (CGPP) provides a standardized approach to quantify, monitor and verify the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions saved when landowners choose to retain grasslands at risk of conversion to other land uses that significantly disturb the soil.
Modeled off the U.S. Grassland Project Protocol V2.0 and adapted to conditions in Canada, the CGPP is especially significant for producers and grasslands on Canada’s Northern Great Plains where the continued loss of grasslands is identified as a major societal concern and factor impacting community resiliency, attributing to biodiversity declines and susceptibility to extreme weather events.
Significant amounts of carbon are released when grasslands are converted for other purposes. It is estimated that Canada’s grasslands currently store ~1.5 billion tonnes of carbon. (Canadian Roundtable on Sustainable Beef (2015) National Beef Sustainability Assessment).
A diverse group of organizations has announced the pilot project to test and refine a carbon offset methodology, or protocol, to enable the generation of carbon credits for carbon stored by conserved grasslands in Canada.
Retaining Canada’s Grasslands Using Carbon Offset Markets project aims to pilot the carbon offset protocol with a select number of landowners to assess its feasibility and better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with an avoided conversion of grasslands program.
The two-year pilot will enable qualifying landowners who sign a land conservation agreement that protects grasslands to generate additional revenue through carbon offsets. Haying and grazing activities are allowed with some minor restrictions.
Funding for this project has been provided through the AgriAssurance Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, with industry funding from Shell Canada.
The CFGA is leading the project and is supported by a diverse group of partners who are contributing significant knowledge and in-kind resources.
The full project group supporting the pilot includes the Alberta Beef Producers Association, Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Radicle Balance, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Legacy Land Trust Society, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Shell Canada, Southern Alberta Land Trust Society, Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, Brightspot Climate, Climate Action Reserve, Regrow and Viresco Solutions Inc.