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Bezos Earth Fund to Help Protect NW's 'Emerald Edge' Forest

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Parts of the Emerald Edge could sequester 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, if protected. (Bryan Evans/The Nature Conservancy)
Parts of the Emerald Edge could sequester 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, if protected. (Bryan Evans/The Nature Conservancy)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA - Producer, Contact
November 17, 2020

SEATTLE -- The Nature Conservancy has been chosen as one of the first recipients to benefit from Jeff Bezos' $10 billion fund to fight climate change. The Bezos Earth Fund is contributing $100 million to the organization, $20 million of which will go to its project to protect old-growth forests in the Northwest.

The Emerald Edge, which extends from Washington state to southeast Alaska, is the largest, intact temperate rainforest on Earth. The Nature Conservancy's Washington state director Mike Stevens said this region is critical for storing carbon - a natural solution to climate change.

"Up to a third of the emissions reductions and sequestration that we need to do can be done through nature," Stevens said.

Part of the funds will be used to protect 250,000 acres of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, which The Nature Conservancy says will conserve more than 47 million tons of standing carbon and sequester 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.

The Nature Conservancy is partnering with indigenous and First Nations people to preserve the Emerald Edge. Tyson Atleo is the organization's economic development lead for its Emerald Edge program. He said reinstating the rights and responsibilities of indigenous communities to steward their lands and waters will bring long-term conservation success.

"The people that are closest to those resources and care deeply about it and are deeply dependent on those resources naturally have a vested interest in ensuring the preservation of those natural resources over the long term," Atleo said.

Christine Woll is southeast Alaska program director for The Nature Conservancy. She said forests in her region could sequester even more carbon than we currently know. She said that's why it's important to protect areas at risk of being logged while also considering the people living in the region.

"We're hoping this gift can really scale up the work we've been doing with communities on supporting alternative livelihoods that help take some of that pressure off that old-growth harvest so we can protect those forests but keep jobs in these communities," Woll said.

The Nature Conservancy also is funding efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of farming practices in India. The Bezos Earth Fund announced 15 other recipients, including the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, Environmental Defense Fund and World Wildlife Fund.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy of Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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