First rainforest-for-carbon-credits deal becomes a reality
Rhett Butler,
February 7, 2008

Villagers in Aceh, the Indonesian province that suffered through three decades of civil war and lost some 170,000 people to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, could soon see $26 million in carbon credits for protecting rainforests from logging under a deal announced today between conservationists, carbon traders, and the Aceh government.

The project — backed by the Government of Aceh, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and Carbon Conservation — will protect the 1.9 million-acre Ulu Masen forest, a tract of rainforest home to the Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus), the Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulusa), the Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), and the Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii). By preventing logging and conversion of Ulu Masen forest for oil palm plantations, planners expect to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100 million tons over 30 years. The proceeds — in the form of carbon credits — will help fund health and education projects in the local community.

Critically, the project won the approval from the Rainforest Alliance's Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards, criteria meant to ensure that land use projects are designed to mitigate climate change and deliver compelling community and biodiversity benefits. The Ulu Masen project is the first project for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) to be independently-approved as conforming to the CCB Standards.

"The project shows how solid partnerships with local communities are likely to deliver real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by conserving a globally-significant tract of rainforest," said Dr. Joanna Durbin, Director of the CCBA. "We hope world leaders will adopt a policy framework that supports developing countries, forests, local and indigenous people and biodiversity to benefit from global climate change efforts."

"As Aceh's Governor, I am very pleased that my office, Fauna and Flora International and Carbon Conservation passed the CCB audit," added Governor Irwandi Yusuf. "Aceh is serious about leading the world into a sustainable future, by implementing an integrated green approach to land and forest management and by curtailing illegal logging. This is only the first step. The hard work will be in financing and implementing our proposed project to help preserve the largest remaining bloc of unprotected Sumatran forests."

"We are ecstatic to be the first REDD project independently validated as meeting high global standards," said Dorjee Sun, CEO of Carbon Conservation. "The fate of tropical forests hinges on the ability of global carbon markets to rapidly mobilize adequate resources to communities with clear, defendable plans for reducing CO2 emissions. This conservation strategy is part of Aceh Green, a bold strategy in Aceh to develop green certified soft commodities, to relieve pressure on forests and provide sustainable livelihoods. We will be working with Merrill Lynch on the credit monetization strategy."

By creating a mechanism for funding rainforest conservation, REDD is seen by many as the best way to slow deforestation in the tropics. Already the World Bank has committed US$165 million to its newly created Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a scheme that will offer tropical countries carbon offset credits to preserve forests.

More on the deal: Carbon Trading May Reward Indonesians for Saving Rainforest

Rhett Butler, (February 07, 2008).

First rainforest-for-carbon-credits deal becomes a reality.