Ecuadorian Forestry Project Establishes Breakthrough for Sustainable Development
- Conservation International (CI) announced today that, for the first time, the Executive Board of the Kyoto Protocols Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has approved a methodology that allows for reforestation projects to take place on active agricultural and pasture lands. This approval is a breakthrough for sustainable development and the fight against global warming as it allows CDM reforestation projects to be implemented on land that is currently being used, instead of being limited to only degraded land.
With funding provided by Ricoh, a Japanese office solutions company, the Ecuadorian pilot project has now completed the development of the methodology used to quantify the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is the first and most difficult section of the process that will go toward issuing certified emissions reductions (CERs) which can be used to meet climate reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The development of this new methodology was a collaboration among several groups including CI, Fundacin Maquipucuna; an Ecuadorian conservation organization, the Ecuadorian Environmental Ministry and Ricoh. The carbon estimation methodology was carried out by EcoSecurities, a British-based company that sources, develops and trades carbon credits around the world.
The approval of this Methodology is an important demonstration of how a market mechanism can be utilized to stimulate investment in carbon offset activities which provide multiple benefits for our climate, the environment and communities in developing countries, said Luiz Paulo Pinto, Director of the Atlantic Forest Program for Conservation International. With our partners, we are showing that forestry projects are a feasible and cost-effective tool in the fight against climate change.
The reforestation project will further go beyond the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol by protecting the endangered plant and animal species in the region on the Maquipucuna Foundation private reserve, and providing ecological and financial benefits to local communities. This type of project enables Ricoh and other leading companies, organizations and governments to address multiple corporate social and environmental responsibility objectives - reducing their climate impacts while contributing to biodiversity conservation and community livelihoods.
"Ricoh's criteria for selecting CDM projects are first, its contribution to conservation of ecosystems and second, its benefits to the local communities. The Ecuadorian project is exemplary in fulfilling these two criteria," said Hiroyuki Abe, manager of the Production Strategy Group, Corporate Environment Division of Ricoh said. "However, one company's efforts cannot achieve worldwide environmental conservation. Ricoh hopes that the approval of our methodology will encourage many other companies to join reforestation projects. Also, Ricoh believes that cooperation between companies and NGOs is vital to realizing such projects."
It is a little known fact that the burning and clearing of forests and other ecosystems account for more than 20 percent of humanitys annual CO2 emissions. Thus, investing in land-based carbon offset projects that prevent forest loss and restore native forests provide a unique opportunity for companies to meet their climate reduction goals while supporting conservation efforts and community benefits.
The Choco-Manabi Corridor Conservation Carbon Project
The methodology that was approved by the CDM executive board was based on activities that will take place within the Choco-Manabi Corridor Conservation Carbon Project, also known as ChoCO2. This project will reforest approximately 1,400 acres of agricultural lands both inside and just outside the Maquipucuna Reserve, located just two hours from Ecuadors capital city of Quito. The Maquipucuna Reserve is the gateway and one of the pilot conservation initiatives within the Choco Manabi Corridor, where extensive ecological research has taken place, including studies on carbon that facilitated the development of this project. It will take three years for the native tree seedlings to develop into trees that provide bankable CO2 credits all of which Ricoh has committed to purchasing as part of the companies strategy to minimize its carbon footprint.
In addition to being able to continue to use their land for agricultural purposes, farmers will benefit from the reforestation project through significantly reduced soil erosion, which in turn results in better quality water in the on-site aggregation systems. As the Maquipucuna Reserve is expanded and improved through projects like this, the surrounding community will be able to see additional economic opportunities through the burgeoning eco-tourism industry. The project will also employ members of the local community to manage the tree nurseries and planting efforts.
Furthermore, the project will directly benefit biodiversity. The Maquipucuna Reserve and surrounding areas is home to nearly 2,000 species of plants including vivid flowering varieties such as bromeliads and orchid and at least 45 different mammals including the Armadillo, Spectacled bear and the Anteater.
The region is of strategic importance to global conservation efforts as it is located at the interface of two global hotspots for biodiversity conservation: the Tropical Andes and the Tumbes-Choc-Magdalena Hotspots. The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planets most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earths surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states).
Concurrently, project managers are also working to have the project certified under the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. To become certified under the CCB Standards, independent 3rd-party auditors must determine that the project satisfies fifteen required criteria, which demonstrate the project will help mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity, and improve socio-economic conditions for local communities.
About Conservation International:
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earths richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.