Unprecedented Partnership Conserves Prairie Habitat Through Direct Payments to Landowners
MEMPHIS, Tenn., November 20, 2007 – It pays to conserve habitat these days. Literally. In an unprecedented conservation agreement, Ducks Unlimited, Equator Environmental, LLC and New Forests Inc. are helping landowners conserve grasslands and store carbon on their property – and make money doing it.
“This is a totally novel approach to habitat conservation,” said Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited’s Director of Conservation Programs in the Great Plains. “DU’s highest priority is protecting the grasslands of the Prairie Pothole Region from destruction, and one way we do that is through conservation easements. When landowners agree to an easement that prohibits plowing that land, they’re also ensuring that the carbon in that soil won’t be released. So, we thought ‘What if DU could offer landowners money for the conservation easement, and money for the carbon credits on their land.”
It sounds complicated, but according to Dan Spethmann, Manager of Investment Programs for New Forests, it’s not.
“On the prairies of North and South Dakota, millions of acres of grassland plants are storing, or ‘sequestering,’ a huge reserve of soil carbon. If that land is plowed, the soil carbon is exposed to oxygen, decomposed and released as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. In the process, vital waterfowl breeding habitat is destroyed,” says Spethmann.
New Forests and Equator saw an opportunity to link carbon sequestration to DU’s conservation work in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region, where some of the world’s best waterfowl breeding habitat is under imminent threat of destruction, primarily from cultivation of land, especially for corn production. Beneath those grasslands lie millions of tons of sequestered carbon.
“The Prairie Pothole Region project is a great example of how conservation can generate profits. The burgeoning carbon market is opening doors for new types of environmentally friendly yet financially sound deals,” said Jeff Bortniker, chief executive officer of Equator Environmental. “We are delighted to partner with Ducks Unlimited and New Forests on this unique environmental credit transaction. This landmark deal will allow investors to address the critical issue of climate change and support conservation.”
Under the agreement, Equator will provide financing to help DU purchase easements and carbon credits in the Prairie Pothole Region. Equator will then sell the credits to investors who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Equator and New Forests will ensure that credits generated from these activities are accredited to the highest market standards and represent a quality product for the voluntary carbon market. The voluntary carbon market is expected to double in size in 2007.
“It’s a win-win like never before,” said Ringelman. “The landowner gets additional revenue for their conservation stewardship, DU conserves more habitat, the investor can generate returns from conservation, and we prevent more carbon from being released into the atmosphere.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland
acres each year.
Equator Environmental, LLC specializes in the generation and management of high-quality carbon credits and environmental assets derived from reforestation projects, forest conservation and sustainable land management. Equator uses state-of-the-art financial structuring techniques to create diversified revenue streams that benefit governments, timberland owners and local communities who make up its client and partner base. Equator advocates policies that support the development of ecosystem markets and create sustainable cash flows related to the protection and enhancement of the world’s ecosystems. For more information, please see www.equator.net
New Forests is a forestry asset management and advisory services firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Sydney. The company’s investment thesis is unique in seeking assets that deliver traditional timber returns, as well as returns from emerging environmental markets and preferences, such as certified timber, carbon, biodiversity and water. In addition to world-leading forestry investment expertise in the areas of acquisitions, modelling, operations, silviculture and ecosystem services, New Forests is at the forefront of developing and commercializing environmental products and evaluating opportunities from emerging environmental markets. The company holds an Australian Financial Services License. For more information, please see www.newforests.com.au.
Equator Environmental LLC
New Forests Inc