The forest carbon offset market is helping to revive tribal economies in a way that’s aligned with cultural values, and that enables tribes to become decision-makers in the management of their natural resources. In exchange for committing to responsible forest management practices, many tribes have been able to obtain a reliable revenue stream that will last for several generations.
As more indigenous nations explore the income opportunities generated by sustainable management of their natural resources, tribes have become leaders in bringing carbon offset projects to market. Working with First Nations and Native American Tribes, including The White Mountain Apaches, the Keweenaw Bay Indians, and the Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, we’ve seen first-hand the environmental, social and economic benefits forest-based projects have delivered to these communities.
Under pressure to generate revenue to responsibly manage their land holdings, forest landowners often resort to the extraction - such as mining and logging - and sale of natural resources. Alternatively, other landowners cut down forestland to make way for money-generating uses, such as real estate ventures or casinos.
In the case of First Nations and tribes, natural assets extracted from lands are often exported to non-reservation entities. In addition to the potential for over-harvesting timber to adversely impact ecosystems and contribute to the loss of wildlife populations, tribal members often do not benefit from their own resources. However, over the last ten years, a new market opportunity has emerged that creates a value for forests without having to cut them down: the forest carbon offset market.
Unlike logging-dominated land management, carbon credit sales leave the forest for trapping, hunting, salmon spawning, and other subsistence activities. Our goal is to help tribes implement an “Improved Forest Management” protocol, which includes sustainable land management practices that combine contemporary knowledge with proven traditional methods. Using these practices, tribes can manage their land to take more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. For each metric ton of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere, one credit can be sold on one of two carbon markets: the Voluntary Market, or the California Compliance Market.
The millions of dollars generated by the sale of carbon credits has allowed tribes to purchase ancestral lands, provide services to their members, and reinvest in tribal infrastructure, all while protecting their lands.
Here are a few co-benefits resulting from funds generated from carbon projects: