A two-year pilot project that will demonstrate grasslands’ carbon-storing power was announced last week by the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association. The project is a follow-up to a previous one, run through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agriculture Greenhouse Gases program.

“We developed the first carbon offsets protocol applicable to Canadian grasslands,” says Cedric MacLeod, executive director of Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA). “We got that registered with Climate Action Reserve back in October.”

The idea is to use the protocol in place and take it out onto the landscape, value the carbon that’s there, and monetize it, moving those credits over to the energy industry.

There’s a couple key considerations to qualify for the project, says MacLeod. The land has to be under grassland management for at least 10 years, and the area under consideration would be less than 10 per cent forested. Active grazing is encouraged and there’s some built-in flexibility surrounding weed control and harvesting hay off the land.

The key point here, says MacLeod, is to work towards a healthy grassland and the next step after that is permanence.

“Easements are typically in perpetuity and so that means being paid for this carbon that’s locked there means it’s going to stay locked there, and that is a key premise for trading carbon,” says MacLeod. There will be different types of easements included in the project, which would take a bit of pressure off the landowner.

The verification, auditing, and certification processes for the offset credits will be completed by CFGA’s many partners. A “nose to tail” understanding will be gained through the pilot project, with the hopes of understanding the modifications that would need to be made to the program.

As for the dollar figure that can be gained, MacLeod says that’s another component to be determined during the project, and once defined, that he hopes will help the program expand.

Listen to the full conversation between MacLeod and RealAg Radio host, Shaun Haney:

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