Terra Global conducts Rapid Conservation Assessments with Hawai’i’s ranchers to set a strong foundation for a GHG protocol on rangeland.

Terra Global Capital
May, 2018

Terra Global was awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA-NRCS to work closely with ranchers to create value for producers and impact investors through marketable GHG/environmental credits on range/pasture lands. Terra met with ranchers in The Big Island of Hawai’i and Oahu to assess conservation practices they are currently conducting, what may be adopted in the future.  This included gathering information about ways to meet the monitoring requirements of a new “uber” GHG protocol that will quantify GHG emission reductions/removals from a broad spectrum of practices and link to other environmental benefits like water or pollinator credits. Since Hawai’i imports nearly 90% of its food, Terra is finding ways to support farmers and ranchers who help feed Hawai’i and bring the State to a more sustainable future.

The propose of the rapid assessments is to engage farmers and ranchers in implementing NRCS Practices from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), identify climate-smart practices, to create access to GHG markets, stacked environmental credits and premium prices products. The rapid assessments document current and desired practices, true attainable monitoring requirements (not too burdensome on the rancher), and provide additional extension and outreach ranchers on practices and potential GHG and other environmental benefits.

In order for ranchers to be able to participate in environmental markets, such as the carbon market, quantification protocols must be in place to allow for the quantification and generation of GHG offset credits. As Hawai’i has unique ecological conditions unlike other states included in this project, it is imperative that Hawai’ian ranchers are included in the first steps of protocol development.  These Rangeland Rapid Assessments support the development of the Rangeland and Pastureland Conservation Protocol, which will give ranchers access to the carbon market and potential future value. Since smallholder ranching on Hawai’i can be very challenging, additional income steams such as those from GHG and additional stacked credits maybe vital to their survival.

As many GHG protocols are set up for medium to large-scale producers, smallholders and underrepresented groups are often cut out of innovate farming and ranching techniques and new markets. Engagement partners Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) and the Farmer Veteran Collation (FVC) reached out to their contacts in Hawai’i to involve underrepresented groups not typically included in NRCS’s engagement and outreach.

Similarly, to rapid assessments conducted in California and Washington, many underrepresented farmers and ranchers were unaware of NRCS’s practices or assistance they offer. In Hawai’i many of the Rapid Assessments focused on discussions of conservation practices that were applicable to each ranchers’ lands and Terra acted as an extension agent for NRCS while working to create links between conservation practices, GHG/ environmental credit markets.