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Luling workshop tackles wetland restoration

By Kimberly Hopson

LULING – The Louisiana Wetlands Action Program, Global Green USA and Tierra Resources offered landowners a unique opportunity to finance wetland restoration with their interactive workshop on blue carbon recently.
Blue carbon is a new strategy designed to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and limit global climate change by conserving wetlands and other coastal vegetation, which allegedly remove carbon dioxide more effectively and permanently than terrestrial forests. As the plants die and decay, their root mats and other material build up in the soil, permanently storing carbon because of compaction over time. In addition, wetlands are valuable as nurseries for fishery businesses and provide a level of protection from storm surge.
Attendees learned about opportunities to invest in wetland restoration projects to offset emissions.
“Blue carbon is an innovative idea, and there is still a lot to learn about how it works to finance restoration,” said Jeff Supak, program coordinator for Global Green. “We see blue carbon as a new tool that can be added to our ‘coastal restoration toolbox.’ In Southeast Louisiana, you can never have too many resources to restore the coast.”
The event also included a tour of Tierra Resources and St. Charles Parish’s groundbreaking wetland carbon pilot project in Luling. The Luling Oxidation Pond Wetlands Assimilation pilot — supported by Entergy Corporation’s Environmental Initiatives Fund — is the first wetland restoration offset project in the nation applying Tierra’s nationally certified methodology, which would allow the introduction of wetland restoration to carbon markets.
Dr. Sarah Mack, president and CEO of Tierra Resources, said her company aims to transact carbon credits from the Luling project within one or two years. If successful, these will be the first wetland carbon credits transacted in the nation. Mack said time will tell whether or not the public will become enthusiastic about the project, but her team has already made huge strides on what was thought to be impossible.
“The potential definitely exists to bring billions of dollars of private finance into our coastal zone to fund wetland restoration projects,” said Mack. “The methodology took us almost five years to develop and would have been possible without the financial backing of Entergy through their Environmental Initiatives Fund. The ultimate goal is to put a dollar value on wetlands and a mechanism to expedite large-scale restoration through private investment.”