In June 2011, the nature conservation organisation Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Forest Carbon Group announced a joint success. Darkwoods, one of the most ecologically diverse and oldest forests in Canada, was placed under permanent protection with proceeds from the sales of CO2 certificates. The project is one of the largest conservation projects in Canadian history and was made possible for the first time with Carbon Finance. 55,000 hectares of forest area with trees up to 600 years old are now - in contrast to many neighbouring areas - not under threat of deforestation. The entire Darkwoods area in British Columbia is now protected while a small portion of the land is being used for sustainable forestry.
A private owner purchasing an expansive forest area like the 55,000-hectare Darkwoods area to save it from subdivision, overcutting or even conversion is a rare event. In the future, the Darkwoods forest area will be able to store more carbon from the atmosphere since substantially less wood is being cut under NCC management.
The Darkwoods area directly adjoins other protected areas, creating a total protected surface area of 100,000 hectares. An area large enough to protect eight endangered species and to offer a sufficiently large habitat for species with large area requirements such as the grizzly bear and the endangered mountain caribou.
Darkwoods is home to a variety of forest types, such as the centuries-old inland rainforest, the so-called "snow forests" that cover the majority of their water requirements with snow and countless rivers and streams. In total, the project protects both forests and climate, and provides a habitat for at least 200 animal and 219 plant species.
Social and economic benefits
The Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project is the first project of its kind in Canada and it shows a new path to the private financing of conversation areas. Darkwoods thus gains an important recreational area for people from the region while providing jobs in sustainable forestry. According to the plans of the NCC, it will stay this way for the benefit of the nearly 50,000 inhabitants of the region.