The Conservation Fund, in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Environmental Synergy Inc. (ESI), announced today that its forest-based carbon sequestration project in southeastern Missouri received Gold validation, the highest level available, under the standards of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA). The Conservation Fund is the first group in the nation to receive Gold validation under the CCB Standards Second Edition.
Supported by donations from the Fund’s voluntary carbon offset program, Go Zero®, the group restored 367 acres of walnut, hickory, oak and cypress trees at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge (Mingo NWR), near Puxico, Mo. As the forest matures, it is expected to trap an estimated 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking approximately 18,000 cars off the road.
When settlers first came to Missouri’s Bootheel region, lush bottomland hardwood forests, including giant cypress and tupelo trees, blanketed the southeastern corner of the state. Over the past century, the forests were cut for lumber, and by the 1930s, most of the land was cleared and the swamplands were drained.
“Today, Mingo Refuge protects the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forest in southeastern Missouri,” said Mingo National Wildlife Refuge manager Ben Mense. “Thanks to the Go Zero project, we were able to restore forest habitat that benefits migratory birds, the endangered Indiana bat and many other species.”
The restored forests will be open to the public for wildlife-dependent recreational uses.
Go Zero works with companies and individuals to help reduce and then offset the carbon footprint of everyday activities, such as the CO2 emissions resulting from an in-town or cross- country move with U-Haul
, a flight purchased from Travelocity
, a package shipped from Gaiam
or the electricity it takes to power a Dell
notebook for three years. Customer donations help plant native trees in protected parks and wildlife refuges like Mingo NWR that will capture and store carbon over time, while also creating forest habitats that are critical to birds, fish, bears and other wildlife.
"Go Zero donors are providing critical, private capital that will help address two of the most extraordinary environmental challenges of our time, climate change and habitat loss," said The Conservation Fund's director, Jena Meredith. "The Gold level validation ensures these donations deliver real, measurable results to help address climate change and restore important wildlife habitat on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the American people."
Mingo NWR also benefits from donations from The Conservation Fund’s partnership with Dell’s via its “Plant a Tree” program.
“At Dell, we're committed to making 'being green' easy and cost-effective for our customers. Dell's Plant a Tree program is a great example of that,” said Mark Newton, director of environmental sustainability at Dell. “This partnership with The Conservation Fund provides a simple, meaningful way for customers to help offset the CO2 emissions of their computers, which adds up to a positive impact for our planet.”
More than 411,000 U-Haul customers have elected to offset their emissions by making a donation to The Conservation Fund.
“U-Haul and our customers are working to make a real difference in protecting the environment and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” said John "J.T." Taylor, president of U-Haul International, Inc. “We commend the Fund on its CCBA Gold validation at Mingo NWR. They are committed to achieving measurable and real results. Together we hope to expand help to communities where we live and serve.”
Colorado-based Gaiam, a lifestyle company, has partnered with the Fund’s Go Zero program
since 2006, offers its customers the opportunity to zero out the carbon footprint associated with shipping their purchase. Gaiam was the first company in the U.S. to offer such a program.
“Gaiam customers care deeply about the environment
and the impact their purchases make on their global footprint," said Christopher Fisher, director of customer experience at Gaiam. “The Go Zero program is a simple, yet significant opportunity we can offer our customers to help them safeguard the Earth. At Gaiam, we believe simple choices make a difference. We congratulate The Conservation Fund on the CCBA Gold Level validation and are proud to be their partner.”
“We are thrilled to see a third Go Zero project achieve CCB Standards validation," said Dr. Joanna Durbin, director of the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance. "Not only do all the Go Zero projects satisfy the requirements for significant environmental benefits by restoring degraded native forests — this one achieves the more rigorous criteria for Gold Level recognition of its biodiversity value by protecting the globally endangered Indiana bat."
“Together over the past decade, the Fund and ESI have forged creative partnerships to advance habitat restoration and forest-based carbon initiatives," said ESI's president, Carol Jordan. "Our work at Mingo NWR continues a legacy that will benefit the environment for years to come, and the CCBA Gold Level validation is a testament to our joint quest for high-quality projects and measurable results.”
The Conservation Fund's Mingo National Wildlife Refuge Restoration Initiative was validated by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS).
"It is inspiring to see the continued, measurable impact of The Conservation Fund's initiatives," said Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, SCS senior vice president. "The Mingo NWR is the third CCBA project Scientific Certification Systems has validated for The Conservation Fund, and I look forward to providing carbon assessment services as their work continues.”