UK-based Social Carbon Foundation has launched a new methodology to award carbon credits to conservation projects located in areas of biodiversity importance.
The group, which is establishing itself as a full standard for nature-based solutions projects, carried out a public consultation process for the new methodology – SCM0006 – earlier this year, and is now ready to let developers implement projects under it.
“Building on outcomes from COP15, this methodology offers a tangible mechanism to help finance the protection and conservation of 30% of nature on Earth,” the company said.
SCM0006 will cover afforestation and reforestation projects, and builds on the CDM Tool for the estimation of carbon stocks and change in carbon stocks of trees and shrubs in A/R CDM project activities as well as Verra’s VCM methodology VM0015, documents on the SOCIALCARBON website showed.
To qualify, projects must be located on registered Indigenous land, and be fully, partially, or within 1 km of a terrestrial area of biodiversity importance, as defined by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Projects must also embed local communities in its activities, and focus exclusively on conservation and/or restoration. As well, conversion to non-native habitats or land use will not be accepted.
Additionally, project activities must include strategies to remove or manage invasive species, and the project must be deemed vulnerable to degradation and/or deforestation without conservation, SOCIALCARBON said.
To meet eligibility criteria, the project must also document that at least 60% of existing or historical conservation efforts in the area have gone unfunded or relied on donations or grants, while they must also make sure that poaching of so-called keystone species – species considered crucial for the survival of the wider ecosystem – must not exceed 5% in any given year.
Failing to comply with the 5% requirement will mean the project will not get any credits issued for that year.
While there is a lot of work being done to develop methodologies and projects that will result in the issuance of biodiversity credits, much of the near-term market-based nature protection investments are thought likely to go towards carbon projects with a biodiversity element.
However, SOCIALCARBON has said that instead of having carbon project with biodiversity gains merely listed as a co-benefit, it wants to back projects that embed conservation work and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and local communities as a default.
“This methodology is designed to offer a new financing mechanism for conservation efforts worldwide. The methodology quantified net GHG emission removals (NERs) from project activities that conserve terrestrial habitats of significant biodiversity and/or ecosystem value. The methodology quantifies net removals of CO2 only,” the SCM0006 documents said.
“Historically, the carbon markets have focused on degraded habitats that require climate finance to protect and restore them. Areas that require conservation but exhibit limited degradation or deforestation have been largely excluded from eligibility within the market. As a result, the conservation of these areas has typically been financed through donations or grants.”
SOCIALCARBON was originally developed by Brazil’s Ecologica Institute in 2005, but charitable organisation Social Carbon Foundation has been running it since earlier this year.
SCM0006 is its sixth methodology, with the previous ones focused on adjusted water management practice in rice cultivation, the regeneration of Spekboom Thicket, regenerative land management, and large-scale and small-scale afforestation and reforestation.
Earlier this month it was granted conditional eligibility status under the international aviation offset scheme CORSIA, though due to lack of clarity on parts of the standard, it was recommended that SOCIALCARBON for now only gets approval for pre-2021 vintage credits.
By Stian Reklev – email@example.com