Reductions in Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation ("REDD"). Deforestation is the single largest cause of biodiversity loss worldwide and also accounts for approximately 10% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. LTC is supporting the current effort to amend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to allow carbon credits to be granted to countries that demonstrate reductions in their emissions of carbon dioxide due to deforestation. Because the treaty currently provides no incentive for countries to reduce deforestation, we believe that this change could have a very significant impact, both in biodiversity conservation and in mitigating climate change, by providing, for the first time, a significant economic value to standing trees. In the absence of an amendment to the treaty, we are also supporting efforts to secure multi-billion-dollar, multi-year funding to launch REDD activities in multiple tropical countries. We have also supported several workshops to advance the application of REDD in protected areas. We have secured co-investments to the organizations we support from five individual donors: Edward Bass, David Blood, Jesse Fink, Joseph Gleberman, and Roger and Victoria Sant. In addition, some of our support has been in partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and ClimateWorks Foundation. Project period: 2006-2016.
A Market-Based Approach to Nutrient Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. An increasing number of rivers, lakes and coastal waters worldwide suffer from a dramatic loss of biodiversity caused by pollution from fertilizer, sewage and other "nutrients." A cap-and-trade approach to this problem has long been considered, and has been tried at small scale in certain affected locations. This initiative seeks to implement this approach at large scale for the first time in one high-profile location: the Chesapeake Bay, the world's third-largest estuary, which has been severely affected by nutrient pollution. In 2010 the Federal government imposed a bay-wide cap on nutrient pollution. The success of this cap will critically depend, in part, on (1) the ability of municipal polluters to reduce pollution cost-effectively and (2) increased actions by unregulated polluters, including farms, to reduce their own pollution. We seek to facilitate this by establishing state and Federal policies to enable trading, and by working with select municipalities to ensure that some initial trades are completed, to serve as models for others. We have secured co-investments from three individual donors: David Blood, Joseph Gleberman, and Roger and Victoria Sant. Project period: 2007-2015.
Reducing Carbon Emissions from Coastal Ecosystems ("Blue Carbon"). Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows are highly biodiverse, vitally important to broader marine life, and provide critical services such as pollution filtration and storm protection. Yet, due to coastal development, agriculture, aquaculture, pollution and other forces, they are being lost around the world at up to 2% per year - about four times as fast as tropical forests. In the search for tools to halt or reverse this trend, regulation has had some effect in developed countries, but in most of the world the trajectory of rapid loss continues. In this context, Blue Carbon stands out as having significant potential. These ecosystems sequester carbon at a high rate - likely more per square meter than any other major ecosystem - and the sediment under them contains centuries or millennia of accreted carbon. So their destruction not only halts the sequestration flux but also causes substantial emissions of previously-sequestered carbon from the sediment. This in turn may make it possible to create a linkage between the protection or restoration of these ecosystems and financial flows from carbon markets. We have supported (1) efforts to estimate the magnitude of blue-carbon emissions; (2) preliminary economic analyses to determine whether and where the potential revenue from Blue Carbon offset credits may outweigh the costs of protecting or restoring these ecosystems; and (3) efforts to incorporate mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to compensate the protection and restoration of these ecosystems. In addition to the policy advocacy itself, this work has produced several reports on Blue Carbon science, economics and policy. We are joined in funding this work by individual donors including Gregory Alexander, Joseph Gleberman and Roger and Victoria Sant. Project period: 2010-2016.
Climate-Change Mitigation Beyond the "Cap". In both the global and U.S. policy arenas, cap-and-trade systems have emerged among the leading policy tools for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. However, because these systems largely impose caps only on emissions from fossil fuel burning and other industrial activities, they generally regulate sectors accounting for only 80% or less of total emissions. Further, such caps are generally set at levels that merely reduce, rather than eliminate, emissions from the capped sectors. Yet science indicates that, to avoid dangerous climate change, total emissions must be cut by as much as 80%. Consequently, the caps by themselves will be insufficient, and it will be necessary to also reduce emissions from uncapped sectors such as forestry, agriculture, landfills and others. The goal of this initiative, which ran from 2008 to 2010, was to ensure that any U.S. climate regulation incorporated well-designed mechanisms to reduce uncapped emissions. This could have included a combination of offset mechanisms, under which emission reductions by uncapped entities could be bought by capped entities to meet their obligations, and other mechanisms.
ARPA for Life. The Amazon basin is a landscape of global importance. It covers more than 670 million hectares (2.6 million square miles), an area about two-thirds the size of the U.S., and spans nine countries; Brazil accounts for 60%. It is home to half of the world's remaining tropical forests, one-fifth of Earth's available fresh water, and approximately one in ten known species on Earth. Furthermore, more than 30 million people, including 350 indigenous and ethnic groups, live in and depend on the Amazon. Unfortunately, about 20% of the Amazon forest has already been lost, and the destruction continues, due to unsustainable expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching, construction of roads and dams, and extractive activities. In 1998, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso pledged to protect 10% of the Brazilian Amazon. The lasting result of that declaration is the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program, whose goal is to secure long-term protection for an ecologically representative sample of the biodiversity of the Brazilian Amazon in well-managed protected areas. ARPA now seeks to protect 15% of the Brazilian Amazon, or 60 million hectares (230,000 square miles) – an area equivalent to three times the size of the entire U.S. national-parks system. ARPA has made major strides toward that goal: to date, it has protected 32.5 million hectares (125,000 square miles). And this includes massive creation of new protected areas: new creation in ARPA's Phase 1 alone (2003-2009) accounts for approximately 27% of all protected areas created globally in the same period. Yet ARPA is incomplete. The remaining challenge is to complete the network and, crucially, to secure all the financial and institutional resources needed to protect it. The "ARPA for Life" project, which closed in May 2014, mobilized, in a single deal, all the financial and other commitments needed to permanently protect ARPA's 60 million hectares. The deal included commitments by donors to place $215 million into a new trust fund, the ARPA Transition Fund, and commitments by the Brazilian government to expand and strengthen the protected areas and to gradually increase its own funding of the network. The Transition Fund will supplement the government's funding, in diminishing amounts over 25 years, as and if the government increases its funding and continues to expand and protect the areas. The purpose of this deal is to assist and motivate the Brazilian government to strengthen and take full financial ownership of ARPA. The 60 million hectare size of ARPA makes "ARPA for Life" the single largest land conservation deal in history. Project period: 2011-2014. See press coverage.
Forever Costa Rica. Many countries' natural heritages suffer not only because insufficient areas have been designated as protected from development, but also because there are insufficient funds to manage those areas that are protected. Costa Rica has been a world leader in assigning national-park or other protected status to approximately 25% of its territory. This land, totaling 1.3 million hectares (5,000 square miles), is believed to harbor as much as 4% of the world's biodiversity — roughly equivalent to all the species in the United States and Canada combined. However, this system has lacked funding structures to ensure that it will be well-managed in perpetuity. In addition, the country's current marine protected areas have been inadequate to sustain its collapsing fisheries and protect its extraordinary diversity of marine life. With the Forever Costa Rica project, whose implementation began in 2010, Costa Rica now intends to at least double its marine protected areas and dramatically improve management of both its marine and terrestrial protected-area systems. Critically, it is doing this on the basis of sustainable financing secured by the project. This includes increased government expenditures and $57 million in new funding from external private, bilateral and multilateral donors, managed by a newly created, independent, special-purpose trust fund. When the project is fully implemented, it will make Costa Rica the first developing nation to achieve all of the protected-area goals of the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity and will thereby position it to serve as a model for others. LTC conceived and launched this project in 2007 in conjunction with then-President Arias of Costa Rica, recruited our partners, and led the management of the project through its closing in 2010. Implementation is being led by a newly-created trust, the Forever Costa Rica Association, in partnership with the government of Costa Rica. Project period: 2007-2014. For more information on Forever Costa Rica, see the Executive Summary or the full Project Report.
Restoration of the Great Plains. The objective of this initiative is to partially restore significant features of the American Great Plains, including the ecological restoration of the bison. In order to accomplish this we are supporting two major projects. The Northern Great Plains program of the World Wildlife Fund seeks to restore and conserve one of the most important grassland ecosystems on Earth. Its flagship project is creating the American Prairie Reserve in eastern Montana, by purchasing title to, or leasing grazing rights on, land totaling approximately 1.3 million hectares (5,000 square miles). When complete this will be the largest area for free-roaming bison in North America, and will restore the entire suite of mammals, birds, and plants to its natural state. The American Prairie Foundation is the WWF partner and land trust that is leading this effort. Additionally, we are supporting the program at the Wildlife Conservation Society for the ecological restoration of the North American bison. Project period: 2006-current.
The Great Bear Rainforest is the world's largest intact landscape of pristine coastal temperate rainforest. It extends along the Pacific coast of British Columbia to the border with Alaska, and is home to lush vegetation and rare animals, including thousand-year-old giant cedars, the spirit bear, eagles and wild salmon. The GBRF is the result of collaboration between the Province of British Columbia, the Canadian government, the private sector, First Nations and a partnership of non-profit organizations. This collective effort established over 2 million hectares (8,000 square miles) of protected forests and used innovative financial planning to devote C$120 million to environmental and economic development projects. The projects are being carried out by First Nations and forest companies operating under ecosystem-based management. Project period: 2004-2007.
Tierra del Fuego. Karukinka is the name for a reserve established in Chilean Tierra del Fuego by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2004, based on a gift of land and financial support from Goldman Sachs. It is an ecologically distinct mixed ecosystem of pristine austral forests, grasslands and massive bogs, and encompassing mountains, valley bottoms, and flatlands, totaling 0.3 million hectares (1,000 square miles). Project period: 2004-2005.
The following are the largest recipients of our institutional support:
World Wildlife Fund. WWF is the largest and is one of the leading conservation organizations in the world. It focuses particularly on large-scale, ecologically unique landscapes.
Resources for the Future. RFF is the leading non-ideological, independent think tank in the United States addressing policy matters regarding the environment and natural resources. Its work on the economics of climate change and cap-and-trade systems has had extraordinary impact.