Over the past several years, the Reserve has been evaluating opportunities to develop carbon offset protocols for activities that increase or avoid the loss of organic carbon stored in soils:
- In 2010, the Reserve commissioned an issue paper evaluating a possible protocol for crediting soil carbon sequestration associated with the application of biochar. Based on the findings of the issue paper, however, we elected not to pursue protocol development.
- In early 2011, the Reserve convened a workgroup to explore development of a Cropland Management Project Protocol for quantifying soil carbon enhancements due to changes in tillage practices. This effort was suspended after further analysis and consultation with stakeholders.
- In November 2012, the Reserve adopted the Forest Project Protocol Version 3.3, which includes a methodology to account for net soil carbon emissions and sequestration in forests. This work may help to inform future development of soil carbon protocols for non-forest projects.
Continuing with these investigations, in early 2012 the Reserve commissioned an issue paper related to two types of land-use change activities: avoided conversion of grasslands and conversion of croplands to grasslands. Based on the completed issue paper and internal scoping and research activities, the Reserve has decided to move forward with the development of a protocol to address grassland projects in the United States.
The background research paper for soil carbon storage in grassland is available below.
- Grasslands Issue Paper (December 2012)
The Reserve is working closely with a multi-stakeholder workgroup to develop the Grassland Project Protocol. The workgroup includes industry representatives, federal agency personnel, environmental organizations, verifiers, and expert consultants. The workgroup includes representatives from:
|Colorado State University||SES, Inc.|
|Ducks Unlimited, Inc.||The Climate Trust|
|Environmental Defense Fund||The Nature Conservancy|
|Environmental Services, Inc.||USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service|
Workgroup meetings are open to the public. Interested stakeholders can join the workgroup calls as an “observer” and listen to the workgroup discuss important issues for protocol development. Observers will not have the ability to participate in calls but will be able to stay informed by listening to the conversations as they unfold. If you are planning to participate as an observer and would like to receive workgroup meeting notices, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Workgroup meeting dates will also be posted below, as soon as they are scheduled.
On May 2, 2014, the Reserve issued a Request for Proposals for a technical contractor to assist with protocol development as well as a call for stakeholder interest in participation in an expert working group. Those documents can be found below (the deadline has passed and submissions are closed).
Reserve staff will work with the selected contractor and the stakeholder workgroup to develop the draft protocol during 2014.
General agriculture protocol development and soil carbon background papers, which may be applicable to a grassland protocol, are available below.
- Peatlands Research Brief (January 2013)
- Background Paper: GHG Assessment Boundaries and Leakage for Cropland Management (June 17, 2011)
- Options for Determining the Additionality of Agriculture Projects (September 30, 2010)
- Quantification Options for Agriculture Projects (September 30, 2010)
- Options for Managing CO2 Reversals (September 30, 2010)
- Technical Working Group on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (T-AGG) Reports: Mitigation Potential of Agricultural Land Management in the U.S.
Soil Carbon Scoping Meetings
The Reserve hosted two public meetings in Minneapolis, MN on February 26, 2013 and Sacramento, CA on March 6, 2013. The same content was presented at both meetings and the presentations are available below.
This meeting was not recorded as a webinar; please see the Minneapolis meeting video.