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.