The burning and clearing of forests contributes approximately 16 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global climate change. That's more than all of the world's cars, trucks, SUVs, and trains emit.
READ MORE: The Road to Copenhagen: Protecting Forests around the World
Protecting and restoring forests then is an essential first response to climate change. Below are several CI forest carbon projects already under way. Nine more are just getting started in the Philippines, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Liberia, Indonesia, and Colombia.
Makira Forest Initiative, Madagascar
We’re working with the government of Madagascar and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Madagascar’s northeastern forests to reduce deforestation across the 4,600-square-kilometer region.
Mantadia Corridor Initiative, Madagascar
In close partnership with the government of Madagascar and local communities, we’ve designed and implemented a second Forest Carbon Project in Madagascar. In the Mantadia Corridor Project, more than 425,000 hectares of standing rain forests are being protected, while another 3,000 hectares of previously degraded land are being reforested with native species and fruit gardens.
Tengchong Forest Initiative, China
In Yunnan Province, we’re working alongside the Yunnan Forestry Department and The Nature Conservancy on the first small-scale forestry project to meet strict Kyoto Protocol requirements for curbing climate change. The project will restore 467 hectares of mixed-use native forests and sequester an estimated 151,000 tons of CO2 over its 30-year life.
Chocó-Manabí Corridor Initiative, Ecuador
A group of partners, including CI and the Maquipucuna Foundation, created the project known as ChoCO2 to reforest at least 250 hectares of degraded pasture land in the western foothills of Ecuador. Together, we’ll plant a mixture of 15 native tree species on former ranch lands, reconnecting existing forests to facilitate species migration as local climate conditions change.
Sierra Madre, Philippines
On the Philippine island of Luzon, the 1.4 million hectare Sierra Madre Biological Corridor accounts for more than 40 percent of the country’s remaining old-growth forest. The corridor is home to more than 400 species of wildlife, 153 of which are found nowhere else on Earth. This project has been designed to provide multiple benefits including carbon sequestration, water and soil conservation, and income-generation for local communities
Alto Mayo Forest, Peru
The Alto Mayo River, flowing through the province of San Martin in northern Peru, passes through Andean forest areas of high biological diversity on its way to the Amazon basin. Within the upper elevation areas of the watershed, the Alto Mayo Protected Forest contains habitat for many endemic species that are under threat from illegal land-clearing. The project will reduce deforestation by negotiating conservation agreements with local inhabitants who are encroaching on intact forests, planting native species on deforested areas, and designing agroforestry systems to expand tree cover and carbon stocks throughout the watershed.
Northeast Atlantic Forest, Brazil
The Paraiba state of northeastern Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, known for its biological diversity, has been under cultivation since the seventeenth century for sugar cane and other crops – and only 4.6 percent of the original forest cover remains, mostly in small pockets surrounded by agriculture. An alliance of sugarcane producers, local and international nongovernmental organizations, research organizations, and government agencies has identified a unique opportunity to reforest at least 1,800 hectares of private lands currently devoted to the industrial cultivation of sugar cane. By restoring forests on lands between existing forest remnants, the project will create habitat connectivity for wildlife, including many endemic plant and animal species.
The Maya Biosphere Reserve Conservation Carbon Initiative, Guatemala
The Maya Biosphere Reserve is the epicenter of the ancient Maya civilization, and also Central America’s largest protected area, covering roughly 2.1 million hectares. Despite having legal protection, the reserve is under increasing threat from agricultural encroachment and illegal logging that reduces forest cover, increases fragmentation, and diminishes the biological diversity of the park. In response, CI and its partners are designing a project that reduces deforestation rates and improves the management of the Reserve. Through the sale of carbon offsets, the project seeks to mitigate management problems in the national park units caused by a lack of financial resources.
La Cojolita Selva Lacandona Carbon Initiative, Mexico
Covering approximately 1.8 million hectares, the Selva de Lacandona is a region of rich biological diversity and home to several indigenous peoples in Mexico. Selva de Lacandona also has important populations of tapir, peccary, jaguar, and spider and howler monkeys. The diverse forests are under pressure from illegal land incursions for agriculture, unsustainable cattle ranching, and unauthorized logging. Local conservation and community organizations, in partnership with CI, will implement an integrated project to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and sequester additional carbon on degraded agricultural areas.
Liberia’s Network of Protected Areas
Liberia contains 4.5 million hectares of lowland tropical forest, half of all remaining forest within the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa. These forests are immensely important for their biological diversity, containing the last long-term viable populations of several threatened endemic species. These forests also provide important ecosystem services and hold the potential to help reduce high levels of poverty in the country. The government of Liberia has been working to design its national forest strategy, known as the “3C” approach, to include areas zoned for community, conservation, and commercial uses.
Muriqui Habitat Corridor Forest Carbon Initiative, Brazil
The Ipanema/Caratinga/Sossego (“Muriqui”) Biodiversity Corridor is an extremely threatened region in the Atlantic forest of Brazil that harbors two of the most important sanctuaries for the northern muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus), the largest primate in the Americas. To prevent the loss of the northern muriqui and other endemic animal species, forest corridors and protected areas linking the remaining fragments are needed to facilitate animal movement.
Mamberamo Basin, Indonesia
The Mamberamo Basin is an 8-million-hectare watershed of lower montane, lowland, and swamp forests in Papua, Indonesia, with high biodiversity conservation value. Increasing pressure to convert the existing forests to palm oil plantations is a major threat to the region, with a 600,000-hectare area currently slated for agricultural and forestry development. The Mamberamo Basin project seeks to protect the region’s forests and to use carbon financing to ensure their long-term conservation.
Bogotá Conservation Corridor, Colombia
There are three protected areas surrounding the Colombian capital of Bogotá-Sumapaz National Park, Chingaza National Park, and a National Forest Reserve. These protected areas are crucial for the city’s water supply, and are important reservoirs of native biological diversity in the Andean forests and paramó ecosystems that constitute a critical link within the North Andean Conservation Corridor. Protecting this important watershed from agricultural encroachment is crucial to ensure both the long-term supply of Bogotá’s water and the rich biological diversity of the area. Over its 30-year life, the project will sequester carbon by planting and maintaining native trees on more than 15,000 hectares of previously deforested agricultural areas.