A groundbreaking new forest carbon project supported by Conservation International-Colombia, which helps demonstrate how efforts to protect the planet from climate change can also bring significant additional benefits to humanity, has today joined the tiny number of forest projects sanctioned by the UN to sell carbon credits.
The Procuenca initiative – or “Forestry project for the basin of the Chinchina river, an environmental and productive alternative for the city and the region” – is working to reforest up to 15,000 hectares (37,000 Acres) of forest that will help protect the region’s important biodiversity and restore the watershed of the Chinchina river, located in the central Colombian Andes. Currently the project has reforested more than 3,000 hectares. The forest area supplies the city of Manizales with water critical for the health and livelihoods of its 600,000 inhabitants.
The project was today registered under the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – an official UN mechanism for trading carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol. It is the first CI project and only the 14th forest carbon project in the world to receive CDM accreditation. This means that when the carbon stored in the planted trees has been officially audited, the project will be able to sell carbon credits internationally.
Most of the money generated from the sale of carbon credits (70 per cent) will go to the farmers who own the land. Another 20 per cent of the revenue will go into a biodiversity fund, which will help protect the region’s incredible plant and animal life – which includes spectacled bears (Tremarctos ornatus) and yellow eared parrots (Ognorhynchus icterotis). The remaining 10 per cent will support the running of the project by the city of Manizales.
Fabio Arjona, Executive Director of CI Colombia said: “This is the first CDM forest carbon project that has biodiversity protection and monitoring built into its design. It is a great example of how protecting and restoring forests to tackle climate change can bring many other benefits. It also helps to protect clean water supplies for people and protects the soil for agriculture, ensuring that Manizales benefits economically and socially. This project is like a Swiss army knife - with a tool for many environmental jobs.”
Francisco Ocampo Executive Director of Procuenca said: “We know the city of Manizales depends on the services that the forest provides, but finding a way to fund the restoration of these forests can be challenging with the competing pressure of agriculture and other land uses. This project demonstrates that the international importance of these forests for carbon storage can also bring local benefits to this area, its people and its unique biodiversity.”