Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Blog: Rewild Carbon - a climate solution with nature at its heart

Posted: 6th October, 2021

Rachel Hughes, Partnership Officer at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust explains their innovative Rewild Carbon scheme and what this means for work at Jersey Zoo and abroad.

At Durrell our mission is to save species from extinction but as part of this we have also been reducing carbon in the atmosphere by protecting and restoring habitats around the world. We are very proud to have launched Rewild Carbon this year, a programme that not only makes carbon savings but is wild, impactful and has nature at its heart. This scheme is a first for UK zoos.

Our understanding of the overexploitation of the planet has advanced with grim, sharp clarity over that time.  Climate change and biodiversity loss are two sides of the same coin and we solve both or neither. The world is now facing another major crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. Biodiversity, climate change and the pandemic have overlapping root causes and therefore natural climate solutions are a powerful means of addressing these issues holistically.

Rewild Carbon is a natural climate solution programme like no other. It’s reviving ecosystems, recovering species, reducing carbon and rebuilding livelihoods. By balancing  carbon emissions with through the scheme, you are not merely investing in a ‘stick of carbon’, but in a living, breathing ecosystem and the many animals and communities that flourish there. 

We knew that if we were going to offer carbon offsetting, it needed to be impactful. Here is why Rewild Carbon is a bit different:

  • We’ve been capturing and storing atmospheric carbon for over 60 years, although we have not exchanged it as such until now
  • Our ecosystems, although rich in biodiversity, are highly threatened with endangered species living amongst the last fragments. Species-rich forests can sequester up to 40 times more carbon than monocultures
  • 95% of the money  invested in Rewild Carbon will go straight to nature
  • We will translate tonnes of carbon into wild commodities like the number of species moving through  trees
  • Our projects are designed with local communities and benefit sustainable livelihoods
  • We work with local partners that we have long-standing relationships with. Together we can better understand the wildlife, the land and the threats they face. 
  • Our approach is transparent and science-driven.

Rewilding the Atlantic Forest

Our first Rewild Carbon project is in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil alongside our local partner Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas (IPE), with whom we have collaborated for more than 20 years. This extraordinarily lush forest in Brazil, is one of the most biodiverse and threatened habitats on the planet. Sadly, only 6% of it remains today, in isolated fragments, replaced by pastures and intensive farmland.

The project aims to restore 4,500 hectares of vital forest corridors by 2030, linking these isolated fragments, and thereby creating lifelines for the wildlife including highly threatened populations of black lion tamarins, jaguars, tapirs and giant anteaters.

These tactically situated corridors are established by planting 100 different species of native trees, which will sequester nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the trees lifetime.

Local people are at the heart of this project. The areas to be planted are designed together with communities, and the trees are grown and planted by them. The project also involves agroforestry, thereby providing sustainable livelihoods for the true guardians of this rich landscape.

The key species which the project focuses on is the endangered black lion tamarin, which Sir David Attenborough has cited as the number one species he would like to save from extinction. There are thought to be 1,000 of these tamarins left in the wild in the project area. Jersey Zoo is the only place they are held outside of Brazil, with nine individuals.  Existing forest remnants are likely at carrying capacity, therefore the connectivity and expansion of the forest, and therefore Rewild Carbon, is key to their conservation. The project also funds the design and deployment of 100 nest boxes in the newly planted forest corridors, as successfully trialled in Jersey Zoo’s free ranging tamarin forest, to ensure they have safe sleeping sites as they move through the forest corridors.

Becoming a climate positive zoo

Launching Rewild Carbon was also the perfect opportunity to better understand our own emissions as a zoo. This year we have worked with an expert to calculate Jersey Zoo’s emissions for the past 3 years, meaning we can identify where we are doing well, and where we can do better. Starting from 2019, we have been offsetting those emissions, that we cannot yet reduce, to become a ‘carbon positive’ zoo.

If you are interested in hearing more about how your zoo or aquarium could balance your carbon in a way that has biodiversity at it’s heart, we would love to hear from you:

By Rachel Hughes, Partnerships Officer at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Click here to learn more about Rewild Carbon.

You can contact Rachel using [email protected]

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions.