Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project

Located in the Selkirk Mountains, the Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project, an Improved Forest Management project, was developed by 3GreenTree and Ostrom Climate in partnership with The Nature Conservancy of Canada. With lush valleys, rugged peaks, tumbling creeks and deep lakes, British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains are both astoundingly beautiful and ecologically important. Spreading across 136,000 acres, the project lies in the heart of this incredible mountain range. It harbours a wide variety of habitats, including old-growth forests, alpine tundra, tumbling creeks, and the deep, cold waters of Kootenay Lake. A plethora of plant and animal species utilize these habitats, and the conservation of the area is critical to ensuring their long-term viability.

How it works

In 2008, The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) acquired this land from Pluto Darkwoods Corporation, a forestry company, to manage the land for ecological conservation objectives. NCC is operating the project as an Improved Forest Management carbon project, moving from a logging baseline scenario to a protected forest. The increase in carbon stocks over time is a result of the decrease in logging activities resulting from the new management scenario.

Offsets Made it Happen

Carbon finance was a significant part of budgeting both for acquisition financing and funding ongoing property management activities over 100 years.

Other Benefits of the Project

The project area, also referred to as Darkwoods, connects to existing parks and wildlife management areas to form a contiguous wilderness area of 255,000 acres (103,000 hectares). This connectivity is important for large species such as the Grizzly Bear and Mountain Caribou. The immense size of the project is also a perfect example of “landscape-scale” conservation, which allows a network of interconnected habitats to continue as a complete, functioning landscape. This is not only good for the health of the ecosystem as a whole, it provides room for the plants and animals in the area to expand as needed to alleviate the effects of climate change or other natural events such as forest fires or drought.

Supporting Species

Conserving the forest is critical for the preservation of the many species that make the area their home, and for the integrity of surrounding wildlife habitats. Mountain Caribou will continue to access critical winter habitat, the old-growth forest will be protected, Grizzly Bears will have the room they need to roam as they always have, and migrating birds will still find food and shelter in the trees and waters.

Mountain Caribou

The only Mountain Caribou in the world are found in the mountains of Southern British Columbia and parts of Washington and Idaho. With approximately 1,900 animals left, they are considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America. Mountain Caribou are distinguished from other caribou by their dependence on hair lichens for winter food. When other food is buried under meters of snow, they stand on the surface, their large feet acting as snowshoes, and eat the lichens that grow on mature trees. Because of this dependence on old-growth forests, the Mountain Caribou acts as an indicator for the health of the entire old-growth ecosystem. The decline in Mountain Caribou mirrors the decline in the equally rare inland temperate rainforest that they depend on. The project is in the heart of the South Selkirks Mountain Caribou herd’s range. The 46 individuals in this herd are the only Mountain Caribou that still cross into the United States. Conserving the area is perhaps the best way to ensure the viability of this internationally endangered herd.

Grizzly Bear

Weighing as much as 800 pounds and standing up to eight feet tall, Grizzly Bears dominate all other carnivores in North America. Yet, this impressive species is at risk from habitat loss and degradation as humans move deeper into wilderness areas. Because of this, in British Columbia, where an estimated 14,000 of these bears live, the Grizzly Bear is being used as a focal species to help monitor conservation success or failure. If Grizzlies can survive, then many other species will also survive. With a total current population in the project area ranging between 70 and 100 bears, these Grizzlies are considered to be an isolated subpopulation that requires special conservation attention. The project area is critical to the survival of these bears as it provides a connective link to protected lands to the north and south, as well as contributing perhaps 15% of their habitat within this ecosystem.


As part of BC’s interior wet belt, the project area is home to some of the highest tree diversity in the province. Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Western Larch, Douglas Fir, Western White Pine, Engelmann Spruce, Trembling Aspen, and Paper Birch are just some of the many tree species found in the areas’ forests. The last remaining stands of interior temperate rainforest, a biologically unique type of forest that derives most of its moisture from snow, can also be found within the project’s area. These “snow forests” provide critical winter habitat for Mountain Caribou, who rely on the hair lichens that accumulate on the forest’s old-growth trees. Conserving the area provides an opportunity to explore and protect one of the rarest ecosystems in the world and animals that depend on it before it’s too late.


The project area abounds with freshwater: streams and rivers carve their way through the property’s deep valleys, fed from over 50 alpine lakes. The internationally-renowned Creston Valley wetlands cover the property’s southern limits, and the waters of Kootenay Lake lap on the project’s eastern shores. All this water not only provides sustenance to the forests and animals, but also provides valuable habitat for birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, including endangered species such as the Bull Trout. The project includes managing the water so that it can provide the greatest benefit for all of the species who depend on it.

Climate Change

Protected landscapes of this size and topographical diversity offer animals and plants a chance to adapt to global climate change. As temperatures fluctuate, wildlife will be able to migrate to different latitudes or elevations and continue to thrive. The forests also function as a considerable sink for atmospheric carbon, each year absorbing enough carbon to offset the emissions of more than 6,700 British Columbians. The total amount of carbon currently stored in the project area is upwards of two million tonnes which, if released, would be equal to the annual emissions of almost half a million individuals.

Project at Glance

Project Type :

Improved Forest Management

Location :

Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia, Canada

Estimated Annual Emission Reductions :

124,847 tCO2e

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