Forests play an integral part in the carbon cycle. They regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity and. They support communities and their livelihoods and supply goods and services that we all rely on. Natural Capital Credits take all these elements into account, as they are only issued if a project has demonstrated that they have provided benefits for a combination of all these components.
The Trocano Project is a large-scale carbon offset project situated in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. This REDD project is protecting 1.3 million hectares from deforestation in the Municipality of Borba, which brings a combination of carbon, biodiversity and community benefits.
The importance of protecting natural forest extends further than just protecting trees. It helps to continue to store the carbon in the standing forest, which is highly significant as if the trees are deforested, the carbon already stored is emitted into the atmosphere, plus the trees are no longer able to absorb carbon in the future. Protecting the forest also helps to preserve and protect the highly valuable biodiversity and ecosystems within them. These ecosystems have a crucial role to play in the natural sustainability of the planet.
The benefits of the Trocano Project for the communities within the area include providing clean drinking water, renovating and building schools, community centres and healthcare facilities.
These combined benefits are the basis of how carbon credits are achieved by the Trocano Project. The Natural Capital Credits issued by the Natural Forest Standard demand that all these environmental contributions are achieved together, as they are all crucial towards protecting the planet.
The best way of protecting forests for climate change is to protect the rainforests we already have, through REDD projects. Forests can either take up carbon dioxide (CO2) or release more CO2 into the atmosphere – and by adequately protecting them we can ensure that they only absorb and do not release what they have absorbed.
Deforestation is the permanent removal of trees to make room for something besides forest. This can include clearing the land for agriculture or grazing, or using the timber for fuel, construction or manufacturing. Most deforestation is happening in the tropics. Areas that were historically inaccessible are now within reach as new roads are constructed through the dense forests. This means it is more vital than ever to protect the rainforests.
Natural Capital Credits are based on criteria that take into account accessibility of forests as well as quantifying the risk they have from deforestation.
Community benefits from Natural Capital Credits projects can range from jobs and training directly through the project, to educational benefits for school students, healthcare clinics and provisions, and many other community activities. The benefits that are implemented are encouraged to come from suggestions from the communities themselves, as part of the community outreach process.
Monitoring of community benefits is required as part of the verification process to achieve Natural Capital Credits, just like the carbon and biodiversity benefits. Projects are able to implement many positive benefits for communities within their project area as part of their REDD project that protects existing forests from deforestation.
Projects that achieve Natural Capital Credits are intrinsically helping to protect the biodiversity within them. Ecosystems are threatened and precious biodiversity is at risk of being lost if forests are deforested. Healthy, intact rainforests are imperative for the regulation of the planet, the environment and the planet as a whole.
The Amazon is home to many endemic species, and if deforestation is allowed to occur, these species could be lost forever. This is why it is vital to protect forests, not just for the carbon absorption they can achieve, but from the irreplaceable ecosystems, species and resources that they hold.
Biodiversity provides global human benefits for everyone on the planet. The Amazon rainforest and the biodiversity within it plays a critical role within the global system, the global carbon cycle and therefore the mitigation of climate change.
Projects that are certified with carbon credits such as Natural Capital Credits are assisting in these important actions, and everyone that uses Natural Capital Credits towards offsetting their carbon emissions are helping to keep these forests standing, for us and future generations.