Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/9755
The Forest Service re-initiated a pilot project in 2009 to indirectly participate in the voluntary carbon market the Chicago Climate Exchange. The project was seen as a viable endeavor since the ongoing prairie restoration effort at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie mitigates climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide.
A research study at Midewin concluded that prairie restoration led to increased carbon stocks in degraded soils. At Midewin, new restorations contained about 1.5x more carbon than no-till row crops and remnant prairie soils contained about 3 to 4x the carbon stocks than no-till row crops. To supplement the research a literature review was conducted and based on 29 studies, perennial grasslands sequestered on averaged 1.7 metric tons of CO2 per acre per year. Carbon sequestration rates can fluctuate as they are influenced by different environmental factors and management practices such as prairie age, soil type, biodiversity and grazing.
Besides sequestering carbon, prairies also provide other “co-benefits” such as: air quality, climate regulation, annual carbon uptake, freshwater regulations, waste assimilation, biological control, aesthetic and recreation, soil formation, soil retention and pollination. Employing the benefit transfer method, the estimated value of these services is $688.99 per acre. Midewin land has 18,735 acres of prairie-type ecosystems; for a total of $13,976,497.35 per year. The Defenders of Wildlife Benefit Transfer database was used to account for: wildlife-viewing opportunities, habitat for multiple species and open public space. The total economic value of these other ecosystem services from terrestrial habitats is $316,818.38 per acre per year. In comparison, industrial park land near Midewin had an average asking price per acre of $215,717. The total potential annual value for 19,165 acres is $6,071,820,036.79.
Despite potential shortcomings, this research provides useful marketing information on prairie carbon sequestration and ecosystem services for the Forest Service. However, the unstable political climate regarding climate change and the economic recession led to the demise of the Chicago Climate Exchange. Once enthused partners found it uneconomical to continue with the project; and the project ceased in fall of 2010.