Go Zero: Two Projects Make Carbon History

May 27, 2014

Cypress tree swamp Red River

The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program is proud to announce North America’s first two reforestation projects verified to the standards of the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB Standards) at the Gold Level.  CCB verification at Red River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Louisiana and Marais des Cygnes NWR in Kansas ensures that both projects meet objectives related to trapping carbon, providing habitat for wildlife and creating positive benefits for nearby communities outlined five years ago when the projects were initiated.

Go Zero has five validated projects at the CCB Gold Level, more than any other group in the nation. These two new verifications demonstrate Go Zero’s commitment to delivering the climate, community and biodiversity benefits our donors and partners expect.

The Standard

The CCB Standard applies specifically to land management projects and, true to the name, integrates a multi-benefit approach including three areas of consideration: climate change, community, and biodiversity.  This means that beyond just trapping carbon dioxide, Go Zero reforestation projects provide benefits for people and wildlife too.

The CCB Standard achieves this in a two-step process. First, projects are validated to ensure each project’s design meets all of the standard’s requirements.  Both restoration efforts at Red River NWR and Marais des Cygnes NWR were validated at the gold level (the highest) in 2009.  The second step, verification, happens five years after initial validation and at five year increments thereafter.  Verification includes a third-party audit that ensures that the project has been implemented in conformance with its validated Gold Level project design and continues to generate positive climate, community and biodiversity benefits.  The Gold Level distinction was awarded to both projects because they demonstrate additional benefits beyond what is required by the standard.

The Projects

Marais des Cygnes NWR - Located 70 miles south of Kansas City along the Marais des Cygnes River and the Kansas and Missouri border, Marais des Cygnes NWR spans 7,500 acres where the bottomland hardwoods forests of the south and the Northern prairies converge.  In 2009, Go Zero restored more than 775 acres of native oak and hickory trees here. After decades of farming, much of the land across the Refuge was too degraded to support habitat for wildlife. Today, the restored forests are managed by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for migratory birds including the yellow-breasted chat and indigo bunting. They are open to the public for wildlife-dependent recreational uses.  As this forest matures, it is expected to trap an estimated 260,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Red River NWR  - Flowing more than 1,300 miles through Louisiana and into the Mississippi River, the Red River’s banks once grew cypress sloughs and hickory trees. Yet there are fewer trees flanking those banks than ever before—millions of acres fewer. As a result of farmland conversion, and the flood control measures that followed, more than 20 million acres of forest were lost. Our efforts at Red River NWR have resulted in the planting of 278,000 cypress, oak and hickory trees across 1,180 acres. As they mature, Go Zero trees will trap an estimated 300,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere as over the next 100 years.

“We are so glad to hear that it is now official that the Go Zero project at Red River NWR has been verified under CCBA standards. Of course we knew that this amazing project and all those involved with it would successfully reach this milestone,” said Lynn Stewart, President of the Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge. “On behalf of the Friends of RRNWR, I offer our sincerest thanks to all responsible for the reforestation of 1,173 acres at Red River NWR.  These recovered lands will provide amazing benefits to both the wildlife and the public in Northwest and Central Louisiana for generations to come.”

Partners and Supporters

The work to design and monitor these two projects would not be possible without the support of our partners, donors and supporters. Companies and their customers, as well as individuals across the country, donate to Go Zero to offset emissions from a variety of sources. Those donations have resulted in the restoration of more than 25,000 acres and the planting of 10 million trees. . Here are just a few of those supporters who have contributed to Marias des Cygnes NWR and Red River NWR over the past five years: Bear Naked, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Conde Nast Publications, Dell, Delta Airlines, Emkay Incorporated, Gaiam, Indianapolis Colts, Land Rover Portland, New Jersey National Gas, Premiere TV, The Home Depot, The Timberland Company, The North Face, Travelocity, U-Haul International, United Talent Agency and Vans, Inc.

“Gaiam is proud to support this great cause and help the Go Zero restoration project provide wildlife shelter with over 150,000 trees planted on behalf of our customers in the last seven years,” said Cyd Crouse, COO of Gaiam. “While many of our customers know us as a leader in yoga, we are fully committed to helping the environment and promoting a sustainable economy. Our name itself is a fusion of Gaia, the ancient Greek goddess of the earth and the phrase ‘I am’—representing  the interconnectivity, preservation and support of all living things.”

Go Zero also relies on natural resource agency partners to accomplish our work, including the USFWS. While Go Zero focuses on the design and implementation of each project, the USFWS is the long-term land manager and steward of our restoration projects and employs well-trained biologists and environmental professionals who provide regular reports from on-the-ground activity.

Both of these projects were verified by SCS Global Services under its SCS Greenhouse Gas Verification Program.  

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