Feasibility Planning for Pacific Northwest Blue Carbon Finance Projects

  • Tidal wetlands naturally capture and store a substantial amount of carbon. Protecting and restoring tidal wetlands keeps this blue carbon in the ground and helps mitigate climate change. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

    Tidal wetlands naturally capture and store a substantial amount of carbon. Protecting and restoring tidal wetlands keeps this blue carbon in the ground and helps mitigate climate change. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

  • Voluntary carbon markets can offer an additional source of financing for projects that conserve or restore tidal wetlands. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

    Voluntary carbon markets can offer an additional source of financing for projects that conserve or restore tidal wetlands. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

  • To assess the financial viability of blue carbon, the PNW Blue Carbon Working Group and its partners looked at three potential wetland restoration sites in the Snohomish, Skagit, and Coos estuaries. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

    To assess the financial viability of blue carbon, the PNW Blue Carbon Working Group and its partners looked at three potential wetland restoration sites in the Snohomish, Skagit, and Coos estuaries. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

  • A 2018 project quantified baseline and restoration scenarios to put a dollar value to the climate mitigation benefit of restoring these Pacific Northwest estuaries. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

    A 2018 project quantified baseline and restoration scenarios to put a dollar value to the climate mitigation benefit of restoring these Pacific Northwest estuaries. Photo credit: Leila Giovannoni.

  • The project helped restoration practitioners, resource managers, and potential carbon market investors better understand carbon finance opportunities and constraints. Photo credit: Craig Cornu

    The project helped restoration practitioners, resource managers, and potential carbon market investors better understand carbon finance opportunities and constraints. Photo credit: Craig Cornu

  • Some of the most promising blue carbon opportunities cover large areas and focus on restoring forested tidal wetlands such as Sitka spruce swamp.

    Some of the most promising blue carbon opportunities cover large areas and focus on restoring forested tidal wetlands such as Sitka spruce swamp.

Tidal wetlands play an important role in carbon sequestration by capturing a substantial amount of carbon—termed “blue carbon”—and storing it below ground. Since the Verified Carbon Standard first released a draft “Methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration” in 2013, members of the Pacific Northwest Coastal Blue Carbon Working Group have worked to fill blue carbon data gaps to facilitate the application of this methodology to the conservation and restoration of Pacific Northwest tidal wetlands. This included data collection and database development efforts, such as the Pacific Northwest Carbon Stocks and Blue Carbon Database Project supported by the Science Collaborative.

This project took the next step to demonstrate the feasibility of including carbon finance in funding strategies that support the conservation and restoration of tidal wetlands, eelgrasses, and coastal lowland sea level rise buffer areas in the Pacific Northwest. By evaluating the viability of blue carbon projects at two sites in Washington (Snohomish and Skagit Estuaries) and one in Oregon (Coos Estuary), the project team advanced local stakeholders’ understanding of next steps for blue carbon management and financing opportunities for land management actions in coastal communities.