As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Native American lands country, Native nations and landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems while sustaining economic vitality. Market-based approaches to conservation present an opportunity to improve resource management and realize revenue from emerging environmental markets such as greenhouse gas markets, however; a lack of information, training, complex patchworks of land ownership and fiscal resources creates a challenge for implementing these methods in these communities.
One project addressing these issues is being done in cooperation with the National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC), a program of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and the Intertribal Agriculture Council.
As part of a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, SIG and NICC have been working with the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico, the Comanche Nation in Oklahoma, and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. They are bringing together tribal landowners with the American Carbon Registry (ACR), private investment groups and carbon offset buyers to: to adopt new guidance on the registration of Tribal projects and the aggregation of multiple Tribal landowners; to provide web-mapping services to track carbon; to find new conservation partners by establishing new collaborations between tribes and voluntary offset market buyers to invest in conservation partnerships linked with carbon credits; and, to register tribal projects on the ACR while using and refining established ACR agricultural/rangeland protocols.
As of 2019, the partners are in the final year of the project. Once finished, this project will have laid the groundwork for projects that may in the future become eligible for the California compliance market, and it is helping Native American communities protect and prosper from their valuable and ancestral lands.