Restoring the Earth Together
by Taylor Marshall, Director of Sustainable Programs, Restore the Earth Foundation | April 24th, 2020
As a result of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding and other natural disasters, many of our forests’ and wetlands’ vital ecosystems have been degraded or destroyed. The need to restore and rebuild these ecosystems is essential, especially when it comes to a sound sustainable environmental future that supports biodiversity, habitat and surrounding communities.
In 2008, we founded a non–profit organization, Restore the Earth Foundation (Restore the Earth), with the hope of restoring the Earth’s essential ecosystems. We offered a unique approach to affect landscape-scale ecosystem restoration by leveraging the power of public-private partnerships and utilizing an exclusive, innovative and revolving funding mechanism.
Today, Restore the Earth has secured federal, state, private and philanthropic funding to reforest over 60,000 acres along the Gulf Coast damaged by Hurricane Katrina. We were also the first to deploy restoration on oil–soiled wetlands following the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill, and we continue to support restoration along the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River Basin.
Our mission is to restore one million acres of degraded lands in the Mississippi River Basin, often referred to as “North America’s Amazon”.
*The blue area is the Lower-Mississippi River Basin
The Climate Forward Program
To enhance the realization of these restoration opportunities for their corporate partners, Restore the Earth pioneered the development of the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Climate Forward Reforestation methodology. The Climate Forward program provides a mechanism for Restore the Earth to quantify, verify and register forecasted mitigation units (FMUs), which represent emissions that are forecasted to be mitigated in the future, using rigorous and peer–reviewed carbon reduction project methodologies. These FMUs will be marketed to voluntary buyers by ClimeCo to help fund future reforestation efforts in the basin.
The Climate Forward program is designed to accelerate action on climate change by encouraging companies and organizations to proactively invest today in projects that mitigate future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This program provides a means to capitalize on the carbon mitigation potential of a reforestation project, representing a real game–changer in our efforts to fulfill our mission.
Restore the Earth’s first Climate Forward project reforests more than 5,000 acres of the historic bald cypress forest at the Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, which is anticipated to sequester more than 1,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Working with Dow Corporation through their partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), an initial 400 acres will generate the first registered FMUs, which will be used to mitigate a portion of the carbon footprint of the IOC and the Olympic movement.
Moving Reforestation Forward
Restore the Earth is proud to lead the way with such high profile partnerships and examples, and is hopeful that these efforts will inspire other companies with carbon emission reduction commitments to consider applying the Climate Forward program to address their annual needs, resulting in significant reforestation investments in the United States.
These investments will arrive at a critical time for the environment and the economy by affecting meaningful climate action in their own backyards, as well as in the communities of their employees, customers and neighbors. Restore the Earth applies EcoMetrics, a system that provides verifiable measurement of each projects’ environmental, social and economic impacts and co-benefits, to every restoration project that we implement. While reforestation projects may have different characteristics, they all provide exponential co-benefits to restoring native ecosystems and habitats that can be measured, quantified, third-party verified and reported on to their project partners. These can include such benefits as job creation, clean air, improved water quality, enhanced quality of life, economic growth, etc.
Restore the Earth has spent the past 6 years building a robust business case for landscape–scale restoration in North America’s Amazon. These projects provide real impacts to the environment in one of the most ecologically–degraded areas in the United States, while simultaneously benefiting local communities and economies in an area with the nation’s highest concentration of underserved communities.
With a portfolio of truly shovel-ready projects, solid public partnerships, the incorporation of rigorous accounting, forward-thinking methodologies and a collaborative culture, Restore the Earth is well-positioned to address climate action right here in the United States. Our partnership with ClimeCo is a large piece of that business case, allowing for the wide marketability of environmental attributes and the execution of significant investments in a timely and cost-effective way.
About the Author
Taylor Marshall is the Director of Sustainable Programs at Restore the Earth Foundation. Wearing many hats, her responsibilities include project development, corporate relations and on–the–ground management of reforestation projects in the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River Basin.
Prior to joining Restore the Earth, Taylor was with The Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, promoting community-based approaches to protecting and restoring the Gulf coast from storm risk and land loss, and enhancing community resilience to such risks. Previously, she served as a Program Director with the American Council on Renewable Energy in Washington, D.C. Taylor earned a Master of Science degree in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) from McGill University.