In this second post of this two-part blog series, Taking Root describes its social reforestation project in Nicaragua.
When Taking Root was formed in 2007, our founders had one mission in mind – to help reforest Nicaragua. Within just five years, we have become engaged in the world of carbon offsetting as the developers of a groundbreaking social reforestation project.
The impacts of climate change
While the carbon market has grown significantly, it has not matched the mounting volume of emissions produced each day. Already the severe impacts of climate change are being felt worldwide. Unfortunately the countries that produce the most emissions are the least impacted by its effects. In developing countries – where many people depend directly on their natural ecosystem as a source of livelihood – droughts, floods and devastating storms are increasing in number. Many communities in these countries often lack the financial, organizational and technical capacity to respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Combining economic development and sustainability
Taking Root recognizes that the voluntary carbon market provides us with a viable means to achieve our mission: to use reforestation as a tool to restore ecosystems, improve livelihoods and tackle climate change.
As such, we have developed the Limay Community Carbon Project, a social reforestation initiative in Nicaragua that works with small-scale farmers to reforest underutilized land on their own properties. Participating farmers receive regular payments for successfully manage their own forests. These farmers can also apply for interest-free advanced payments to help them cover the costs of building nurseries and planting and maintaining their trees.
Following the Plan Vivo standard (see Part 1 of this blog series for more details), we make sure to meet the socio-economic needs of participating farmers, use only native trees, and integrate species specifically for firewood and timber use, essential for rural families. We also build efficient cookstoves in participants’ homes, reducing the need for firewood.
Why plant trees in Nicaragua?
Trees are made up of 50% carbon. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 from the air and store it in their tissue, releasing oxygen in return. Consequently, deforestation accounts for between 12-19% of global CO2 emissions (depending on the study). So, our reforestation both absorbs CO2 emissions through planting trees and avoids emissions by preventing the further destruction of existing forests.
The impacts of planting in a tropical climate such as Nicaragua are also 10 times greater than planting them in North America. With no winter, some of the trees we plant can reach over 6 feet tall within just six months! Since trees are such effective carbon pumps, they are invaluable tools in tackling climate change.
Measuring our success
From our organization’s beginnings in 2007, Taking Root has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2010 and 2011 we planted over 205,000 trees, covering an area equal to 217 soccer fields. These trees will sequester over 46,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the emissions produced by 9,200 cars each travelling 20,000 km. The carbon offsets generated during those years brought $144,000 for future payments to the community.
Now in 2012, our participating farmers will plant almost 307,000 trees over an area the size of 315 soccer fields. These trees will sequester 66,700 more tonnes of CO2, or the emissions of 13,340 cars driving 20,000 km each. The sale of these offsets will contribute almost $220,160 more to the community. This eclipses all other years combined!
Taking Root’s carbon offsets
Through our reforestation project, Taking Root generates verified carbon offsets that are sold to individuals and businesses worldwide.
However, taking responsibility for our carbon footprint is not as an excuse for business-as-usual. This is why help our clients and partners calculate their carbon footprints so they can see where to first reduce and then set reduction targets for coming years. We then offset their unavoidable emissions and, lastly, help them communicate to their clientele about their important decision to offset using the CO2 Responsible promotional kit.
Taking Root is especially pleased to work with ambassadors of sustainable development like Cascades, who are dedicated to this process of self-evaluation and improvement. By demonstrating their commitment to minimize their impact on the environment, Cascades is truly leading by example. We look forward to more businesses and organizations taking up the charge.