Tech4Nature Switzerland pilot opens the door for CO2 certificates for protected and conserved areas worldwide

Posted Tuesday 20 September 2022
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Pilot Study

As part of the global IUCN-Huawei Tech4Nature Partnership, a local, Swiss partnership was created with IUCN, Huawei and the Swiss Porini Foundation, to pilot, study and measure carbon sequestration in a protected area in Switzerland and make a transaction using blockchain technology.

This was done by testing the amount of CO2 sequestered through management activities according to the newly developed Green List Standard for Carbon (GLS+) in the forest reserve of Schwägalp – Bruggerwald in the communities of Urnäsch and Hundwil, canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Switzerland.

GLS+, is an independent Standard but 60% of the indicators are identical with the ones used in the existing IUCN Green List Standard which aims to achieve and promote effective, equitable, and successful protected and conserved areas. GLS+ allows to identify carbon sinks in Protected and Conserved Areas (PCA), by calculating the CO2 sequestration of different management activities in sites, issuing the correspondent certificates and to bring these CO2 Certificates onto a blockchain based digital marketplace.

GLS+ is adding the possibility to create high quality carbon credits and the new funds generated can be used to help finance protected and conserved areas to improve their governance and management performance and thus facilitate their journey towards IUCN Green List certification.

The Pilot is run on real data generated through a biodiversity intervention in the year 2021 to favor the locally endangered Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and is only testing the potential for CO2 certificates without creating them.

Pilot Region

The forest reserve of Schwägalp – Bruggerwald is located on the prealpine mountainous region at the altitude of 1200m a.s.l. and measures at 230 ha of forest. The forest is composed of 95% of Norway spruce (Picea Abies (L.) H. Karst.) and no intervention has been made for the last 100 years.

This forest reserve has been categorized as a specific forest reserve by the Federal Office of the Environment of Switzerland (FOEN), which implies the protection and preservation of endangered species and environments (OFEV, 2020). To achieve its purpose, FOEN allows a number of management practices, delegated to local forest practitioners.

In the Schwägalp – Bruggerwald, the forester Forstbetrieb am Säntis has been mandated to manage the forest for the conservation of the Western Capercaillie. Although categorized as a “least concern” species for their global population by IUCN (IUCN Redlist, 2016), their population is a priority concern for Swiss bird specialists (, s. d.). The Swiss federal authority (FOEN) suggests different management practices to conserve this species, the main objective being the creation of an open forest and adequate environment for the reproduction and life cycle of this large bird (OFEFP, 2001).

Based on national law, the forester must retain trees of old age and favor structural diversity in the stand. The stand must not be altered in its ecological sense (using chemicals, drainage of swamps) leaving the dead trees and branches on the forest floor. Last but not least, the forester must refrain from silvicultural activities during the mating and the raising of the young capercaillies (i.e. February to mid-July).

Pilot Results

The project is analyzing a biodiversity intervention from 2021 and is estimating the eligibility and expected CO2 equivalents for a new cut. Overall, 9619.49 tCO2 carbon tons could be sequestered in the total area of the forest reserve which would add up to a total of 240’487 Swiss francs (approx. 250’000 USD). However, given the high management costs in Switzerland in this specific area, the amount does not cover the deficit/ ha.

Nonetheless, this conservation model could be attractive in other parts of the world, with lower management cost and where this additional stream could help fill in existing funding gaps.Moreover, as 60% of the requirements for the IUCN Green List Standard are also required for the Carbon Standard (GLS+). Starting the GLS+ process for carbon would accelerate implementation of the IUCN Green List Standard and vice versa.


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