Patagonia Region Improved Grazing
Standard: Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)
Methodology: VCS VM0026
Locations, Phase 1: Argentina
For thousands of years, people across the globe have cultivated wool for use in clothing, blankets, rugs, and so on. Today, wool is still a highly desirable textile, prized for its warmth, durability, and wrinkle resistance. However, wool also has associated greenhouse gas emissions – emissions that come directly from grazing sheep. This is why Native, a Public Benefit Corporation and EILEEN FISHER have embarked on a project to address the climate impact of wool production.
Over the past two centuries, overgrazing on farms and ranches has led to an increase in bare ground, which in turn results in erosion, reduced water holding capacity and, ultimately, reduced productivity for livestock operations. The negative impacts go beyond the sheep industry, though, as this ecosystem, when healthy, acts as a carbon sink, capable of absorbing an enormous amount of carbon dioxide, thereby mitigating some of the impacts of climate change.
With support, farmers and ranchers can shift to grazing practices that do the following:
- Significantly improve the soil’s capacity for carbon storage
- Increase filtration capacity
- Enhance resilience to drought
- Improve forage and nutritional value for grazing livestock.
Growers in the region are eager to make these changes to their grazing practices, but are limited by the cost and resources necessary to do so, including materials (such as fencing and water infrastructure), labor and time, and education. Because farmers and ranchers operate with very thin margins, investments in improvements need to have immediate returns. However, it takes time for ecological changes to take hold, often longer than the farmer or rancher can afford to wait. The Regenerative Wool Project will bring the upfront investment necessary for growers to take the steps needed to accelerate and improve their soil’s health.
The Regenerative Wool for Climate Initiative
With the support of EILEEN FISHER and other partners, Native will work with wool growers to transition to what is called a regenerative approach. This approach will allow some fields to “rest” and regenerate while others are in use, enabling the resting fields to become healthier. Resting fields will have time to grow grasses that are better for livestock and will once again become effective at absorbing carbon dioxide. Project specifics include:
Higher intensity rotational grazing, imitating the rest and recovery periods of migratory herbivores. This transition requires more fencing, more active livestock management, and often building water infrastructure to supply potential pastures previously not viable.
Reducing selective grazing and relieving pressure from waterways are vital components of allowing perennial grasses, native species, and riparian zones to regenerate.
The project will operate over thirty years, with ongoing third-party verification, ensuring real, measurable carbon sequestration, as well as soil health benefits over time.
Impacts & Benefits
This project will provide the up-front capital needed to help farmers and ranchers adjust their land management practices to a regenerative approach that benefits the local ecosystem, the productivity of their land for grazing sheep, and the climate.
Phase 1 of the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes over its 30-year operating life. As this initiative expands to include additional partners and additional farms and regions beyond Phase 1, we expect carbon emissions reductions to reach 50,000 tonnes per year.
In addition, the rotational grazing employed through this initiative will improve the productivity and profitability of livestock operations, nutrient density, biodiversity of plants and animals, soil health including a soil’s resilience to extreme weather such as drought or floods, and water quality within the watershed.
Read more about the impact of this regenerative grazing project on Patagonian farmers in this article from Bichos de campo.
To hear our conversation with hosts of Sustainability Defined in this podcast on soil carbon and regenerative agriculture, you can listen here.
Validation & Verification
The project will be validated to VCS.
How to Get Involved
To join us as a partner on the Regenerative Wool project or on a custom project that aligns your
business and supply chain, contact Kevin Hackett at Native, a Public Benefit Corporation.