NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602
info [@] newildernesstrust.org
CARBON & CLIMATE CHANGE
Northeast Wilderness Trust (NEWT) has been building its Wild CarbonTM program for the last few years to support and enhance its mission to protect forever-wild landscapes across the Northeast and directly address the entwined crises of climate change and biodiversity collapse. Northeast Wilderness Trust achieves its mission by partnering with Nature to rewild land, which means providing the time and space for existing forests to flourish freely and reach their full ecological potential. Forever-wild forests actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it as carbon in plants and soils—a process known as sequestration. NEWT is able to sell this carbon storage and sequestration in the form of carbon credits to companies who have made sustainability commitments and would like to invest in Nature projects to compensate for activities that produce carbon emissions.
Most forest-related carbon credits are generated from actively managed and logged lands. Wild CarbonTM is different. When a forest is no longer logged or harvested, virtually all the carbon on those acres stays in the forest. Wild Carbon™ credits are estimated based on the amount of carbon these forests are working to sequester above a business-as-usual scenario (active management and logging) over a 40-year period. The 40-year measure counts the carbon reduction from a forest as it rewilds and stores carbon. “Wild CarbonTM credits are only generated from recently protected wildlands that are permanently conserved with a legally binding Forever-Wild conservation agreement,” Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust, said. “Wild CarbonTM represents a promise—to the marketplace and to the public—that the land generating the credits will be free from extractive uses and will store and sequester carbon naturally—forever.”
Northeast Wilderness Trust pioneered Wild CarbonTM credits developing its first carbon project in 2013 on the Howland Research Forest and Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve’s in Maine, some of NEWT’s earliest fee acquisition conservation projects. Howland Research Forest is a premier example of an Old Forest, dominated by spruce and firs, with most trees between 100 to 200 years old. The Research Forest is also the site of the nation’s second-longest running collection of atmospheric carbon data. A 2021 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences found that Howland, though an old forest, is continuing to sequester more carbon year over year, which corrects the theory that old forests are generally carbon sources rather than sinks. Further research indicates that old forests continue to accumulate carbon over their lifetimes and thus contain vast quantities of carbon. For more see Wild Works: Volume 1.
NEWT has used carbon credits to help fund the acquisition of some of our most recent preserves, including Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve (NY). To promote these carbon credits and to make them available to the public, not just businesses, the Northeast Wilderness Trust is collaborating with the Climate Culture program at Rare. Rare partners with nonprofit carbon credit project generators to create integrated campaigns to raise funds from individual supporters to retire carbon credits. Retiring a credit means someone else can’t claim that carbon credit or emission reduction action elsewhere. These campaigns are incorporated into Rare’s Climate Culture program, which seeks to educate and encourage individuals to take personal actions that help address climate change, including learning about and donating towards carbon credit projects. Such action is complementary to the more common usage of the voluntary carbon market, which has seen tremendous growth in recent years, driven mostly by businesses setting net zero sustainability goals and taking voluntary action to support land conservation.
While most carbon credit retirements are accomplished through corporate purchases, there is a growing role for individuals to play—by contributing to projects that are creating and protecting permanent carbon sinks. Rare is learning through partnerships like this one how to engage more people to generate change directly from consumers.
The market for individuals to support carbon credit projects is young. Rare is working with many well-respected partners like the Northeast Wilderness Trust to understand and leverage the motivations that inspire people to support carbon credit projects. “At Climate Culture our research shows that supporting high-quality, carbon credit projects like Eagle Mountain Wildlands is one of the highest impact climate actions a person can take. We’re thrilled to partner with Northeast Wilderness Trust to help raise awareness and support for Wild Carbon™ credits that rewild the Northeast. These carbon credits save important landscapes that ensure resilient, healthy forest homes for plants and animals and clean the air that all of us breathe,” Brandon Schauer, Senior Vice President, Climate Culture at Rare.
Donate to retire Wild Carbon Credits generated from our Eagle Mountain Wildlands Project. Your donation to retire Wild Carbon™ credits goes back to Northeast Wilderness Trust’s critical mission of conserving forever-wild landscapes for nature and people in New England and New York. All funds generated from credits are re-invested in wilderness conservation—they help NEWT acquire new wilderness lands and look after existing wildlands in perpetuity.
Redington Wilderness Sanctuary by Jon Leibowitz