Research Project on Carbon Credit Systems in Cape Breton

Here at Cape Breton Privateland Partnership (CBPP) we are currently working on a project about how ecological goods and services that are taking place on private woodlots can be financially rewarding.

What are ecological goods and services?

Ecological goods and services, or ecosystem services, refers to the economic and cultural benefits that humans receive from the natural processes and functions of a healthy ecosystem. Ecological goods are the products that can be taken out of a healthy ecosystem, and ecological services are beneficial natural processes that come from a healthy ecosystem. Woodlots in Nova Scotia provide many of these services to our provinces, and our members are proud to do so. However, the cost of providing these service is born almost entirely by the woodlot owner instead of larger society that benefits from them.

How can they be rewarded financially?

We are currently looking into how a carbon credit system would work for private woodlot owners in Cape Breton. A carbon credit system is a system where your ecosystem services are assessed based on how many tonnes of CO2 or CO2 equivalent (CO2e) this service removes or reduces in the atmosphere. You are given credits towards this service (a tonne of CO2 or CO2e removed or reduced is one carbon credit) if you choose to protect  areas or alter management practices such that more CO2 is captured. These credits are then bought by individuals, companies, and governments to reduce their carbon footprint.

In some jurisdictions, landowners are compensated for providing other services that benefit society but cost the landowner. These services can include such things as additional water protection, providing habitat for at risk species, or maintaining aesthetically pleasing vistas for tourists.

How is CBPP getting involved?

This summer I will be working on a research project to review and document how such systems work in other jurisdictions. I also hope to list stakeholders who are interested in the subject to begin a discussion around what are the next logical steps. With CBPP’s 250 (and counting) woodlot owners that are enrolled in the program, there is already a head start on providing ecological goods and services that may take place on the island. Most members are happy to provide these services, but what if we could be appropriately compensating them for doing so?

- Adrianna Sullivan