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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Evaluating the biodiversity implications of nature-based carbon credits

Redwood forest with tall trees and lower shrubs

Group Members: Sophie Bartley, Dana Cohen-Kaplan, Jackson Hayes, Anissa Stull, Kelsey Warren

Faculty Advisors: Andrew MacDonald

Client: Carbon Direct




Effective carbon credits can enable individuals and corporations to reduce their carbon footprints and mitigate their contributions to climate change. While companies globally are striving to decrease their carbon emissions, they are also seeking to meet international biodiversity conservation targets. This occurs partially through the purchase of biodiversity credits as well as through other conservation measures. Some carbon projects can support biodiversity conservation—in the form of a wildlife corridor or habitat creation, for example—without expressly producing a biodiversity credit. Carbon credits from biodiversity-supporting projects may appeal to credit buyers striving to meet their company’s biodiversity targets.

Given these carbon and biodiversity considerations, the primary goal of this project is to evaluate nature-based carbon credits on the VCM in terms of their potential to support biodiversity. Through an analysis of VCM project data, our team will identify key characteristics of nature-based carbon credit project design relevant to biodiversity benefits.

Working with Carbon Direct, we aim to produce findings that will inform carbon market purchasers in identifying credits that support biodiversity conservation. First, we will analyze nature-based carbon credit projects and their ecological importance based upon their geographic location, species composition, climatic suitability, and other relevant project characteristics. Next, we will conduct a case study that investigates the ways in which selected carbon projects relate to conservation efforts and/or the well-being of Indigenous and local communities residing nearby. Lastly, we will synthesize our findings about the characteristics of projects that provide potential biodiversity benefits, which may be used to inform carbon credit purchasers' buying decisions.

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