Did you know carbon is found in everything on Earth? From human DNA to soil to the atmosphere. The carbon stored in ecosystems is called a “carbon stock.” Protecting carbon stocks in natural areas can help us fight climate change and biodiversity loss in Ontario.
To help support the case for their permanent protection, we wanted to know how much carbon Ontario’s DCLs store. This project involved literature reviews, fieldwork, webinars and workshops, meeting with carbon researchers, and field assessments.
More specifically, knowing how much carbon is stored in an ecosystem can help:
Improve land management by quantifying the impacts of restoration or management projects
Guide future planning by assessing the advantages or consequences of land use options to identify specific areas to prioritize conservation efforts
Advance protection by providing additional evidence to conserve a particular site
Enhance public education on NbCS
Inform future research questions on NbCS
Attract funding and secure grant proposals from donors or investors interested in conservation
Obtain offsets for implementing conservation-based management practices
Accessible approaches to carbon stock assessments
Some organizations delegate carbon assessments to an external carbon consultant, which can be expensive. Alternatively, access to free online models and knowing how to use them can help organizations and communities get started with this work immediately and at a lower cost.
During our research, we realized that there are many different approaches to measure carbon stocks. The decision-making tree below highlights four options for measuring carbon stocks and helps readers choose the most suitable approach for their project, capacity, and budget.
Along with the decision-making tree, our new guide also:
Highlights the advice learned from carbon experts on running your own model
Provides key takeaways from discussions with members of conservation authorities and Indigenous communities
Explains how to conduct a field validation
Describes how to run two different carbon assessment tools
Concludes with four recommendations for getting started with this work
We are still in the early days of measuring carbon and there is still much to learn. However, we hope our guide can help organizations, conservation authorities, Indigenous communities, ENGOs, and FSC-certified companies navigate carbon stock assessments to advance NbCS in Ontario.
Next steps for protecting one million hectares
Using some of the approaches laid out in the guide, we assessed FSC DCLs and found that they store more carbon than the surrounding landscape. We plan to use this data to show the provincial government that permanently protecting these areas is critical for addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.
How you can help
You can help us protect one million hectares in northern Ontario by making a gift at www.ontarionature.org/protected-places-give. Your support will help us to ensure that these natural carbon-capturing systems continue to do what they have done since time immemorial.
This project is made possible by the Career-Launcher Internships program with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change, ECO Canada, the Metcalf Foundation, the RBC Foundation, Bruce Power, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and an anonymous donor.