This is the third in a monthly blog series about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. This month's blog highlights the extraordinary community benefits at the Russas and Valparaiso Projects.
The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Juruá and Valparaiso Rivers in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Russas and Valparaiso Projects. These forest conservation projects collectively cover approximately 158,000 acres and are being designed and implemented in tandem. The Valparaiso Project is currently undergoing validation to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS), while the Russas Project recently achieved validation to the VCS and to the Gold Level of the CCBS for the Project's exceptional community benefits.
To achieve Gold Level of the CCBS for exceptional community benefits, projects need to demonstrate that at least 50% of the communities living in the Project Zone earn less than the national poverty line. Next, projects need to specifically involve the poorest community members and must have a specialized community impact monitoring plan with the ability to monitor the projects' impact on these poorest community members.
The Russas and Valparaiso Projects both use a Basic Necessity Survey for their specialized community impact monitoring plan. The way a Basic Necessity Survey works is by beginning with a local focus group to identify the top 20-30 assets or services which were believed to be basic necessities, or things that no one in the communities should have to live without. Then the Project Proponents, comprised of CarbonCo, Carbon Securities and the private landowners, individually surveyed local families and only those assets or services which at least 50% of the families deemed a basic necessity were included in the final calculations of a poverty index and poverty score. In addition to a poverty index and poverty score, the Project Proponents will continue to monitor community impact variables such as the value of owned assets, value of owned assets per person, inequality of owned assets, and the inequality of owned assets per person.
The Project Proponents identified the particular needs of the families within the lowest 25% of the families surveyed via the Basic Necessity Survey and then designed the Project in order for these families to benefit substantially from the Project. This includes addressing some of their specific needs, such as increasing access to transportation and focusing on agricultural extension courses. The Project is also designed with the goal of increasing their incomes in order for them to eventually purchase additional assets, such as a telephone or television, to satisfy their other basic needs. Furthermore, the Project Proponents identified and actively work to avoid scenarios which might prevent the poorest 25% of communities from benefiting substantially from the Project.
The Russas and Valparaiso Projects reduce tropical deforestation and preserve the area's rich biodiversity, which is a critical need in and of itself, but they surpass that need by directly improving the livelihoods of local families. Creating a win-win is what CarbonCo, LLC is all about. We love when our projects benefit both the environment and local communities and we thank you for your ongoing support to continue making these win-wins happen!
Carbonfund.org supports carbon offset projects that clearly benefit the environment and fight climate change. A recent study highlights how projects such as ours offer even more than combating global warming alone. They can provide additional benefits ranging from employment to health, which is important to countries' economies and limited budgets.
Often the question is posed as whether to cut emissions or use the funds to stimulate the economy. But we can have the best of both worlds with certified carbon-cutting projects; particularly projects in poor countries. And the numbers add up to billions in additional benefits.
Carbon credit certifier, the Gold Standard Foundation, in a partnership with WWF Switzerland commissioned a peer-reviewed study from Australia-based Net Balance. Economists analyzed the environmental and socioeconomic benefits from clean energy or Gold Standard-approved carbon reduction projects.
The report found, "Robustly designed and audited greenhouse gas mitigation projects... deliver far more than carbon emission reductions, meaning it is no longer necessary to choose between climate and other environment and development outcomes."
The study analyzed more than 100 initiatives including building wind farms, planting trees, installing water filtration systems and distributing clean stoves to discourage people from burning wood or charcoal. Then the report identified areas beyond greenhouse gas cuts where there was a potential benefit from projects, such as local economies, employment, health and biodiversity.
The report gives a couple examples; the first shows how three water filtration systems throughout Africa and Asia deliver health benefits such as less air pollution, which is valued at more than $300 million annually. The second example illustrates how 54 Gold Standard-certified wind farms created jobs worth $12 million a year while contributing a total $100 million per year to countries' balance of payments.
Gold Standard Program projects generate carbon credits that can be bought by individuals, businesses and organizations to offset their own carbon footprints. Learn more about Carbonfund.org's carbon reduction projects at http://www.carbonfund.org/projects.
This is the second in a monthly blog series about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. This month's blog highlights the extraordinary wildlife present at the Purus Project. We write about some of these amazing animals but hope you will take a few minutes to enjoy the photos!
The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Purus River in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Purus Project. This forest conservation project covers approximately 85,714 acres and achieved validation and verification to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and to the Gold Level of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) for the Project's exceptional biodiversity benefits.
The Purus Project is located within one of the World Wildlife Fund's ecoregions, which represent "the most distinctive examples of biodiversity for a given major habitat type." The Project achieved exceptional biodiversity benefits because during a rapid biodiversity assessment from August to September 2009, at least two endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List were identified at the Purus Project. These endangered flora species are Car-cara (scientific name is Aniba rosaeodora) and Baboonwood (scientific name is Virola surinamensis).
Anecdotal observations of biodiversity on or next to the Purus Project include:
- Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
- Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis)
- Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus L.)
- Great White Herons (Ardea alba)
|Local Fauna at Purus Project in August 2011 (Photo Credit: Brian McFarland)|
One of the ways the Purus Project monitors biodiversity is by using motion-sensitive cameras to photograph medium-to-large mammals. The motion-sensitive cameras took pictures of a short-eared dog and a jaguar, both considered near threatened by the IUCN Red List. Also captured by the motion-sensitive cameras, are photos of a giant anteater and a lowland tapir, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Other wildlife photographed include a puma, otherwise known as a mountain lion, along with an ocelot. Furthermore, the photograph of the short-eared dog is only the second photograph ever taken of a short-eared dog in the State of Acre!
Ocelot Photographed at Purus Project
Short-Eared Dog Photographed at Purus Project
Puma Photographed at Purus Project
Giant Anteater Photographed at Purus Project
Lowland Tapir Photographed at Purus Project
We hope exploring the Purus Project's extraordinary biodiversity has whetted your appetite for more information about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. Next month we are featuring a post about how the Russas and Valparaiso Projects are benefitting local communities.
This is the first of a monthly blog series about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. This month's blog gives an overview of tropical deforestation and an introduction to our projects. In future months, topics shall include updates on the projects' biodiversity, highlights of community projects, stories from the field, and status of the projects' certifications.
Tropical deforestation is a global problem because such deforestation is responsible for approximately 15-20% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, reduces habitat availability for a tremendous amount of biodiversity, and further threatens the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. With this in mind, only 2% of the world’s total surface area is home to rainforests yet rainforests are home to 50% of the world's plant and animals. Shockingly, according to The Nature Conservancy, "every second, a slice of rainforest the size of a football field is mowed down. That's 86,400 football fields of rainforest per day, or over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year."
Because of the support of our generous donors, the Carbonfund.org Foundation created its wholly-owned subsidiary, CarbonCo, to design, finance, implement, and manage large-scale forest conservation projects. Our projects help mitigate this trend of tropical deforestation while also preserving precious rainforest habitat and providing alternative economic opportunities for local communities. These projects, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) projects, are essentially payment for ecosystem service projects which rely on the sale of verified emission reductions (VERs), commonly known as carbon offset credits.
As of today, CarbonCo has several REDD+ projects in the Western State of Acre, Brazil which are protecting more than 700,000 acres. To help visualize how large these projects are, consider that 700,000 acres is the equivalent to approximately 1,100 square miles. This is almost as large as the entire state of Rhode Island (1,545 square miles), about the size of the urban area of Paris, France (1,098 square miles) and more than twice the size of New York City (470 square miles).
Our projects are named the Purus, Russas, Valparaiso, and Envira Amazonia Projects. The Purus Project was the first-ever REDD+ project in Acre to be validated (audit of project design) and verified (audit of project’s performance) to the leading international carbon certifications known as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) with Gold Distinction for exceptional biodiversity benefits. The Russas Project was validated to the CCBS with Gold Distinction for exceptional community benefits and is pending validation to the VCS. The Valparaiso and Envira Amazonia Projects are also being designed to the VCS and CCBS with Gold Distinction.
Now that we have provided some background on forest conservation, stay tuned for next month's blog post with a more in-depth view of our specific REDD+ projects!
Some may think jellyfish are simply a pesky problem when we want to take a swim or snorkel, but they are actually a sign of flagging oceanic health. We think of them as the canary in the coal mine. The difference is the canary dies when there is a problem, but jellyfish flourish in the conditions that global warming wreaks on our oceans.
Climate change heats and acidifies the planet’s oceans. Overfishing adds to the first two major problems. All three contribute to creating an ideal environment for jellyfish to thrive and multiply. So what’s the big deal if there are too many jellyfish?
The issue is that jellyfish take a bad situation and make it worse. They have a unique trait where they’re able to eat up the food chain. This is surprising considering these sea creatures don’t even have brains. However, they actually can consume animals that are bigger, smarter and faster than they are. They damage the ecosystem further by competing with large mammals, such as whales, by feeding on the same fish and plankton that these other animals need to survive.
Marine expert Lisa-ann Gershwin wrote the new book Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean. She points to an example where jellyfish wiped out an entire food chain simply by eating from the bottom up.
The jellyfish species Mnemiopsis leidyi was accidentally introduced into the Black Sea in the early 1980s. In just a few short years, these jellyfish comprised “95 per cent of the biomass in the Black Sea”. This means “ninety-five per cent of every living thing was this one species of jellyfish”.
Jellyfish could rule our planet’s oceans as they once did in the Precambrian era. A time when biodiversity was low, the jellyfish commanded the oceans, and mammals and reptiles did not exist. This is a scary eventuality, that our feet are firmly planted on the path towards. We need to heed the warnings that these gelatinous invertebrates provide and begin seriously reducing our carbon footprints and offsetting the rest of our carbon emissions.
Ecotourism continues to grow in popularity as environmentally-conscious travelers seek out adventures to natural environments while minimizing the negative ecological impacts of their trips. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has defined ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." New Carbonfund.org partner Quasar Expeditions offers eco-travel adventures through the unique ecosystems of Patagonia, while ensuring that all on-the-ground tour emissions are measured and mitigated through Carbonfund.org.
In order to uphold their commitment to environmentally sustainable tour operations, Quasar Expeditions chose to partner with Carbonfund.org to calculate the emissions generated by each tour vehicle then mitigate those emissions by supporting reforestation and bio-diversity preservation projects around the world.
“Our recent partnership with Carbonfund.org is a big step for Quasar Expeditions in making yet another positive contribution to conservation and sustainable tourism,” explains Fernando Diez, Director of Marketing and E-Commerce. “Although our adventures are methodically designed to leave very light footprints, we know that there is always some environmental impact, so we are now happy to be offsetting our carbon emissions through Carbonfund.org.”
When planning ecotourism excursions, it’s incumbent upon travelers to carefully review and seek out tour providers that are implementing sustainability practices to limit the environmental impact on the fragile habitats they visit. Eco-tour related emissions may be unavoidable, but measurement, reduction and neutralization of these emissions is a key component to maintaining responsible travel options while fighting the negative impacts of climate change.