Reforestation vital for Africa & climate: Developer
A forest carbon developer has claimed the first validation of a reforestation project to the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), using the opportunity to argue for what it sees as the critical role for forest planting in a sector where attention is turning very much to avoided deforestation, or REDD.
Green Resources is currently developing two reforestation projects in Tanzania, one at Mapanda and Uchindele to the VCS, and another at Idete under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It’s been involved in forest carbon investment in eastern and southern Africa since 1997.
The private sector developer has seen fit to issue a paper arguing that afforestation and reforestation (A/R) is critical for:
- overall carbon reduction and development efforts in Africa,
- successful REDD project implementation, and
- meeting an atmospheric carbon stabilisation goal of 450 parts per million.
The company also highlights the difficulties faced by private sector developers and calls for greater support for their role in helping develop the forest carbon sector.
Green resources argues that in light of the much-heralded failure of the CDM to take off in Africa, forestry has the most potential for meeting CDM goals there. A need to establish alternative timber, fuel wood and charcoal supplies and generate jobs in rural areas with few other economic opportunities makes forest carbon activity well suited.
The company further contends that reforestation is a pre-requisite for REDD success, in Africa in particular, where charcoal production is on par with agricultural expansion as a driver of deforestation. Poor rural populations relying on charcoal for cooking need sustainable alternative supplies of forest material if native forests are going to be protected. REDD carbon projects must establish that forest preservation in the project area won’t lead to deforestation action simply moving elsewhere; so-called carbon leakage. Reforestation for sustainable harvest is being seen by many REDD developers as a key method of addressing leakage.
From a global warming perspective, Green Resources says the sheer scale of the emissions reduction effort to meet a 450ppm target is going to require a contribution from forests, both in reforestation and reduced deforestation. It quotes a McKinsey report identifying more than three billion tonnes of potential emissions abatement a year from each up to 2030.
The Norwegian developer also argues the case for private sector forest carbon developers saying they deserve a greater share of public funding because they often deliver the most efficient project implementation. “While there are large amounts of funding available for forestry and carbon activities, very little of this benefits private companies,” it says. “We estimate that private companies receive less than 2 per cent of the public funding available for forestation, carbon and REDD activities. In order to increase all the activity aimed at combating climate change, in particular in Africa, funding agencies should provide much increased grants to the private sector.”
While supporting independent certification to leading international carbon, social and environmental standards, the company says the high costs involved mean simplification is required to make forest project investment more viable. It says it has not yet been able to generate any return for its investors after more than 12 years of operation in Africa.
The Mapanda and Uchindele project design document shows 10,800 hectares of degraded grassland to be planted with pine and eucalyptus for carbon sequestration and sustainable harvest. As well as the VCS, certification has also been achieved to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, as has validation to the CCB standard. Ten per cent of the carbon revenues will go to local community development projects with the remaining 90 per cent to be reinvested in further forestry projects Tanzania in keeping with a long-term investment strategy. Green Resources forecasts $US1.5 million in carbon credit sales in 2010, including proceeds from an ERPA for the CDM project.