Forest Conservation and Carbon Markets

Madagascar Masoala Photo
Makira Forest spans more than 1,500 square miles, making it one of the largest remaining intact blocks of rainforest in Madagascar.
Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

Scientists estimate that as much as 20 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions—roughly equivalent to the volume of greenhouse gases the U.S. generates each year—are caused by the fragmentation and clearing of forests, especially in tropical areas. Brazil and Indonesia are the third and fourth largest emitters of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China, due principally to deforestation. Healthy forests can store carbon dioxide in vast reserves and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere. Protecting an intact forest keeps its store of carbon from heating the planet. In addition to its environmental value, the sequestration of carbon has an economic value, which allows us to create an even greater incentive for conservation.

WCS is currently working with our partners to establish “forest carbon credits”—a new kind of green commodity that can be traded on an international carbon market. The credits are generated by successfully halting deforestation and land degradation at targeted sites, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions. By purchasing credits from projects that prevent forest destruction, individuals, companies, and governments can “offset” their emissions and help reduce the global concentration of greenhouse gases.

WCS Projects

Logging Concession in Congo

WCS works with the CIB logging company to reduce the pressures on gorillas, elephants, and other endangered wildlife in four timber concessions and to control the trade in bushmeat. This collaborative project is called PROGEPP: the Project for Ecosystem Management in the Nouabalé-Ndoki Periphery Area.

Karukinka’s Carbon Markets

While peat lands represent a tiny portion of the earth compared to forests, they store double the amount of carbon. WCS is working to safeguard the peat bogs of Chile's Karukinka, and to sell carbon offsets to help guarantee their preservation.

Makira REDD+ Project

In collaboration with the government of Madagascar, WCS’s Makira REDD+ Project will help finance the long-term conservation of one of Madagascar’s most pristine remaining rainforests, home to rare and threatened biodiversity. It will also help enhance the economic wellbeing of neighboring communities.

From the Newsroom

WCS Urges Forest Protection at Cancún Climate TalksDecember 3, 2010

As negotiators from around the world gather for the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference, WCS climate policy experts are urging progress on the strategy known as REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

New Park in Cambodia October 23, 2009

The forest haven for monkeys, tigers, and elephants also stores carbon and will help in the global fight against climate change. Key research conducted by WCS led to the park’s creation.

New Initiatives in the Congo BasinOctober 1, 2009

Congo Basin heads of state and conservation groups celebrate 10 years of success in saving the world’s second largest rainforest.

New Hope for ForestsMay 21, 2009

WCS applauds the inclusion of forestry provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which paves the way to comprehensive climate change policy.

On Sale in Madagascar: CarbonJune 4, 2008

To save Madagascar’s pristine forests and combat climate change, WCS and the government of Madagascar agree to launch a massive carbon sale, totaling more than nine million tons.

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