Tuesday, 6 August 2013


General Mitigation Measures (GMP) for Terrestrial Sequestration Activities

Many impacts that could occur as a result of terrestrial carbon sequestration activities may be avoided or mitigated.

Mitigation practices and principles could apply to any or all phases of a terrestrial sequestration project. Mitigation measures applicable to land use impacts are particularly relevant, since a terrestrial sequestration project will likely involve ground disturbance. Proponents should establish and maintain contact with stakeholders throughout the course of a terrestrial sequestration project through meetings, mailings, and multimedia announcements.

Terrestrial sequestration project sites should avoid land uses that:
  1. Conflict with local ordinances and land use plans.
  2. Have a disproportionate impact on minority or low income populations. 

If possible, sacred landscapes and important ecological, cultural, historic, archeological, and paleontological resources should be avoided during the siting and design process. In cases where such sensitive resources cannot be avoided, proponents should plan for mitigative measures like: worker education on the consequences of landscape and resource disturbance; development and implementation of resource management plans including, if necessary, the periodic monitoring of resources the preservation or removal of significant archeological, paleontological resources; site-specific landscaping to mitigate visual impacts to sacred landscapes; and the creation of buffer zones around rare plants and animals.

In many ways, a properly planned and managed terrestrial sequestration project serves as its own mitigation measure: practices such as no-till cultivation, crop rotation, and the use of cover crops serve to increase sediment/erosion control and dust suppression, and increase the carbon content in topsoil, thus increasing the water content, nutrient content, and relative health of the soil. Proponents will be motivated to preserve the vegetative crop, since a healthy crop represents a carbon sequestration sink that can be marketed as a carbon credit.

Proponents should ensure that the infrastructure used to support the terrestrial sequestration plot — including access roads, fertilizing operations, and irrigation systems — are managed to mitigate dust generation, uncontrolled irrigation return water, or overspray runoff; and to mitigate acoustic disturbances caused by vehicles or mechanical irrigation systems that support the project. Proponents may need to develop and implement mitigation plans for hazardous materials management, such as for the management of used oil and antifreeze associated with support vehicles, out-of-spec pesticides, or empty pesticide containers.

Potential Impacts of Terrestrial Sequestration

Potential environmental impacts associated with terrestrial sequestration include: ground disturbance and the loss of soil resources due to erosion; equipment related noise, visual impact and air emissions; the disturbance of ecological, cultural and paleontological resources; and, conflicts with current or proposed land use.

Establishing and managing a terrestrial sequestration plot could involve ground clearing (removal of vegetative cover) to prepare the ground for planting, grading, vehicular traffic, and pedestrian traffic. Management could require the use of water for dust control and in some cases, water could be required to establish and maintain seeds, seedlings, or crops. The addition of soil additives like fertilizer and pesticides could have an impact on water quality. Equipment used to maintain a terrestrial sequestration plot could be a source of noise and air emissions, and create a visual impact if frequent and conspicuous use was required.

Ecological, cultural, and paleontological resources could be impacted, especially if a terrestrial sequestration plot was going to replace an established ecological habitat or otherwise impact undisturbed land that hosts important cultural or paleontological resources. Impacts to land use could occur if there were conflicts with existing land use plans for; example, if land zoned for future commercial or housing development is used to establish a forest sequestration plot.

Soil resources can also be impacted by terrestrial sequestration. The careful management of a sequestration plot should result in an improvement of soil resources, but poor management practices could adversely impact soils and the viability of the sequestration project. Practices like no-till cultivation and planting, crop rotation, and the use of cover crops, should result in the maintenance of soil organic material and nutrients and an increase in the relative health of soil resources. Some management practices, however, could involve the use of hazardous materials like herbicides to kill a cover crop before planting the terrestrial sequestration crop.

— Sources: EPA, TEEIC, The Environmentalist.

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