PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
December 17, 2014
Contact: 
Steve Emmett-Mattox; 720-300-3139

Leading the Way for Carbon Finance Investments in Coastal Wetlands

WASHINGTON - Today, the first global Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration Methodology is one step closer to full approval, having cleared the first of two independent assessments required by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). This methodology details the procedure that project developers must follow to generate carbon offsets and will allow carbon rich coastal wetlands to earn carbon credits.

Coastal wetlands have only recently been included in the carbon market, and there has been a need for wetland and seagrass restoration methodologies to spur carbon project development. Carbon credits can then be sold to businesses, organizations, agencies, and individuals who want to offset their carbon emissions, adding an incentive to invest in coastal wetland restoration projects. 

“This validation is a significant step to increase the pace and scale of coastal wetland restoration” said Jeff Benoit, President of Restore America’s Estuaries. “Project developers could begin using the methodology now to design carbon projects so they can hit the ground running.”

Tidal wetlands, like salt marshes and mangroves are critical habitats that provide many benefits. They protect shorelines from erosion and storms, improve water quality, and provide vital habitat for economically valuable fish and marine species. Tidal wetlands and seagrass habitats are also important for absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground – referred to as “blue carbon”. Yet globally these habitats are being lost at alarming rates, up to 7% annually. In the U.S. an average of 80,000 acres is lost every year.  

Developed by Restore America’s Estuaries and its partners, this methodology is the first globally applicable Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration Methodology. It was submitted last year to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a leading carbon offset standard. The 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets reported more than $379 million in offset purchases last year. The process of approval is rigorous, including two rounds of assessment by independent auditors, known as validation/verification bodies. With the first round of assessment complete, restoration practitioners can expect the final completion of the methodology spring of next year.

“The VCS methodology is a major step for coastal habitat restoration because it applies to a broad array of coastal ecosystem types and management activities,” said Dr. Pat Megonigal, a methodology author.

In addition to incorporating coastal wetlands into the carbon market, RAE is working with partners including the National Ocean and Atmospheric Association’s Office of Habitat Conservation to identify policy drivers and increase community capacity to include climate mitigation in coastal management and restoration plans. To learn more about blue carbon and RAE’s efforts to increase coastal restoration, visit www.estuaries.org.

Methodology development was lead by Restore America’s Estuaries with financial support from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Habitat Conservation, The Ocean Foundation, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, and KBR.

Methodology authors include Dr. Igino Emmer, Silvestrum; Dr. Brian Needelman, University of Maryland; Steve Emmett-Mattox, Restore America’s Estuaries; Dr. Steve Crooks, Environmental Science Associates; Dr. Pat Megonigal, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Doug Myers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Matthew Oreska, University of Virginia; and Dr. Karen McGlathery, University of Virginia; and David Shoch, Terracarbon.

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Restore America’s Estuaries is the leader of a national alliance of coastal conservation organizations across the country committed to protecting and restoring the lands and waters essential to the richness and diversity of coastal life.