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Methodology for Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands to Crop Production

The American Carbon Registry (ACR), a non-profit enterprise of Winrock International has approved a voluntary carbon offset methodology for Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands to Crop Production (ACoGS).

The methodology was developed by Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, The Climate Trust, Environmental Defense Fund, and Terra Global Capital LLC.

The methodology quantifies the emissions avoided from preventing the conversion of grasslands and shrublands to commodity crop production. Grassland and shrubland soils are significant reservoirs of organic carbon that, if left uncultivated, will continue to store this carbon below ground. Grassland and shrubland ecosystems may also support greater plant biomass than annual cropland, especially below ground. In addition to the avoided cultivation and oxidation of soil organic carbon, several crop production practices, such as fertilizer application, may also be avoided. Livestock, primarily cattle, are anticipated to be common in the project scenario and their associated emissions from enteric fermentation and manure deposition are accounted for.

The methodology includes two Avoided Planned Conversion baseline scenarios: where the conversion agent is identified and where unidentified. Projects that can identify the conversion agent are required to demonstrate proof of intent to convert by the identified agent. Where the specific conversion agent cannot be identified but a class of likely agents can, the Avoided Planned Conversion – Unidentified Agent baseline approach is used to determine the probability of conversion. This approach is based on the relative ratio of the property’s appraised value in the baseline and project scenarios.

The removal of project lands from the supply of potential cropland is expected to create leakage effects in the form of market leakage. A default market leakage estimate is proposed to account for these effects. Standardized values for leakage and baseline determination are specific to the United States and Canada.

Projects using this methodology must comply with all requirements of the ACR Standard, submit a GHG Project Plan for certification by ACR, and secure independent validation and verification by an ACR-approved third-party verifier.

Process Documentation:


  • Public Comment Version of the methodology
  • Public Comments & Responses
  • Scientific Peer Review & Responses
  • Document Actions
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