The Global Conservation Standard was founded and established as a not-for-profit non-governmental organization in the years 2010 and 2011. It builds upon its founders’ experience in forest carbon project methodologies and practice. Therefore, measurement and verification are based on aboveground carbon stocks in protected areas. Differently from carbon offset projects, not the flow, but the maintenance of these carbon stocks generates Conservation Credits Units on an annual basis. CCUs are purely voluntary and do not pretend to compensate any environmental damage.

The basic idea of the GCS is that the protection of nature has opportunity costs not only for the landowner, but also for land users. Worldwide, poverty is a – if not the – driver of land degradation. Therefore, revenues from GCS conservation projects are channeled in equal parts to the landowner and to the “Commercial Buffer Zone”, as defined in the GCS methodology, with the purpose of fostering rural development in the landscapes that includes the protected areas. The revenues accrue on an annual basis, as long as the resource remains protected. This methodology is complementary to nature-based carbon offset projects, but in itself does not require additionality or any counterfactual baseline scenario.

This system is available worldwide, and several projects from other world regions were already submitted, but so far implementation has only succeeded in Costa Rica.

Goals of the GCS

  • Build a bridge between finance, sustainable development and long-term conservation
  • Attract international finance to holistic landscape management
  • Complement existing climate change mitigation measures
  • Provide pragmatic financing for reforestation, agroforestry and forestry applications
  • Increase the capacity of rural and poor communities livelihoods


The Global Conservation Standard e.V. is a charitable organization registered in Offenburg / Germany (Registry VR 1078).

Learn more about the institutions under the GCS