February 8th, 2012 by

Credit: USFWS Headquarters/Flickr

It can be hard to turn down a two-for-one deal. But this kind of bargain isn’t just benefitting your wallet; it can benefit the environment too! A new methodology tool has been developed to help restore wetlands along the Gulf Coast while also establishing the grounds for a carbon offset market. Tierra Resources, a small environmental consulting firm, developed the tool with the help of Louisiana State University scientists. Terra Resources founder, Sarah Mack, says the tool measures and quantifies the amount of carbon plants absorb as they grow and how much carbon is stored in the plants throughout their lifecycle.

The idea for the tool stemmed from Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. When Katrina hit, the resulting water drainage and coastal restoration work cost the state of Louisiana a lot of money. That’s where Mack saw an opportunity to get more bang for the buck. The idea was a tool that would generate more than just environmental benefits from coastal restoration efforts; it would establish the grounds for a wetland carbon market and boost the local economy.

The wetland carbon market tool is the first of its kind; allowing investors to pay for wetlands restoration work to count towards carbon credits. The tool’s methodology is currently being reviewed by the American Carbon Registry (ACR) to ensure that it meets certified carbon credit standards. The review process will look at the carbon-storing capability for a variety of wetland restoration efforts, including: fresh water management, tree planting, and habitat restoration. The ACR review and approval process is set to be complete in spring 2012.