Tag Archives: Carbon Neutral

Unexplored Ways Exist And It Is Worth a Revolution

Guest Blogger: Pati Ruiz Corzo

The good news of the international validation of Sierra Gorda´s Premium Carbon product filled us with pleasure since we have been working on this for many years and have experienced many frustrations regarding how inaccessible the global mechanisms are for the local contexts, and the arrogance of claiming to alleviate extreme poverty and protect the forests.

Mujeres con reforestaciones en el programa

Women participants in the reforestations for carbon compensations.

Yet, while being developed, the (Kyoto Protocol) designers never looked down to learn about the possibilities of the forest and society who own the land. This is a truth in Sierra Gorda and on a global level, as biodiversity is sheltered on the private lands of very poor communities who ignore  or are unbothered by its presence.

The design of discriminatory rules that are out of reach of the extreme poverty realities in mountain communities widens the gap from modern society, therefore these protocols do not answer the emerging global crisis. The tangle of methodologies and requirements, some of which were so out of focus, provoked us  to laugh and then to fury, looking for a way out of this costly maze.

When finally there was an innovative initiative like the California one, we thought there would be an opportunity, but to our disappointment, its rules were even more complicated, expensive and exclusionary than the rules of the Kyoto Protocol.  In 2010, the Secretary of the California´s EPA

Secretary Adams of CalEPA and Governor Calzada in his headquarters in Queretaro State, October 2010.

visited our carbon providers in the Reserve yet and seem to have continued to not comprehend the reality in the field. Maybe they did not mind not meeting their goals because it seems they made the process even more complicated.  See Earth Island Journal´s account by Jeff Conant.

Of the 685 plots of reforestations that were to obtain validation, only 208

obtained it. The lack of approved methodologies excluded the viability of taking advantage of other urgent opportunities in the field, all of them ready to mitigate global warming and local poverty, but out of the game because of the rules imposed for what seems to be another planet, not ours, and not for conservation and its reality.

With this experience and many frustrations accumulated while trying to find a way to make these protocols flexible, and being a conservation manager and social developer, I saw that several field opportunities were being excluded and I was determined not to let it happen.  I decided to step out of the narrowness of the box, and to break and rebuild the rules in a process that would allow urgent measures to happen now and protect the biocapacity of our planet.

I have always been viewed as a weird animal in the forums and workshops, advocating for a broader concept, both for products and possibilities of stimulating new markets and financing niches. Our ideas have always been ahead of the pack, so much so it provokes mocking and contempt among the MBAs, or investors for coin and academics submerged in ink.

So, today I am even more proud that our idea of making Kyoto touch ground at the local level provides adequate certainty and security and is done according to Sierra Gorda´s communities necessities and contexts. With pleasure I see how the idea of a State Protocol to  compensate emissions continues to progress and is becoming a  serious commitment.

And not only Sierra Gorda Premium Carbon has excellent possibilities on the global market, so do the new Solidary Carbon products which open the doors wider to compensation payments.  On a state level, it opens more opportunities for individual voluntary compensations aqnd shows once more that a lot of unexplored ways exist and it is worth a revolution and risking and finding a new universe of possibilities for the region and for other areas in Mexico.

Article about the validation of Sierra Gorda Premium Carbon (Click) on-line, “Sierra Gorda Brings Small-Scale Farmers into Mainstream Carbon Market With Dual Validation Under VCS and CCB.”

Community-Organized World Heritage Site Sierra Gorda Announces First Carbon Project in Mexico to Earn VCS, CCB Gold Validation

Community-Organized World Heritage Site Sierra Gorda Announces First Carbon Project in Mexico to Earn VCS, CCB Gold Validation

Sierra Gorda obtiene validaciones ecológicas internacionales El 26 julio, 2011 (Equilibrio Magazine, Mexico)

Mexican Farmers Access Carbon Market

A conservation project in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, has become the first carbon project in Mexico to receive validation under two emerging global carbon market standards: the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard. Theproject attained a gold level of approval, CCB’s highest rating, for exceptional climate change adaptation, community and biodiversity benefits.

 “These validations are an international recognition of the reforestation work being done by the farmers of the Sierra Gorda,” said Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo, general director of the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, one of the organizations responsible for the project. “It is a very important step forward in our work to provide alternatives for local farmers and strengthen the economy of conservation in the Sierra Gorda.”

“Validation under these standards demonstrates the integrity of Sierra Gorda’s offsets and the overall value of the efforts to restore ecosystems, preserve biodiversity, alleviate poverty and sequester carbon in the Reserve,” said Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, which was the first donor for carbon offsets under this project.

The project involves the establishment of small reforestations by farmers in the Reserve and its area of influence to help combat climate change while providing benefits to local communities and helping to conserve biodiversity. While this project involves tree-planting, the Sierra Gorda organizations are also pioneering efforts to develop ecosystem markets for other ecological values of the Sierra, which acts as a massive water filter for downstream areas and supports valuable biodiversity.

The reforestations are monitored to quantify the amount of carbon dioxide being captured as part of the natural process of tree growth. Bosque Sustentable then offers “carbon offsets” in national and international voluntary carbon markets.  Organizations, businesses and individuals can choose to offset emissions that they cannot otherwise reduce by making a donation to Bosque Sustentable, which in turn pays small farmers to plant and manage trees to capture a corresponding amount of carbon dioxide.  Currently, such offsets can be purchased in voluntary markets, but Mexico is likely to be the first country encompassed for offsets under any U.S. state or federal system.

A unique feature of this project is that it involves large numbers of small reforestations, on parcels as small as .5 hectare, which allows the Sierra Gorda project to involve individual farmers in conditions of poverty in very remote areas. Through 2013, the project will include a total of 289 small reforestations with a total of 305.7 hectares.

“This is a major milestone for Sierra Gorda, which has been a pioneer in the voluntary offsets market for many years and now has the independent validation that confirms the solid technical design and carbon accounting behind their reforestation efforts,” said Jacob Olander of Forest Trends.

“The Bosque Sustentable project represents a forest carbon project of the highest quality,” said Jeff Hayward, director of the Climate Program of the Rainforest Alliance. “It offers significant benefits to both local communities and biodiversity in addition to climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration in the growth of planted trees. This project will serve as a model for the development of future small-scale forest carbon projects in Mexico and internationally.”

The project was launched in 1997 by Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, I.A.P, and is now operated by Bosque Sustentable, A.C. Forest Trends, an international organization focused on ecosystem markets, supported the project´s design and validation through its Katoomba Incubator, while the Rainforest Alliance was the organization that carried out the external validation. For more information about the variety of ecosystem services projects being implemented in the Sierra Gorda and about how to use Sierra Gorda carbon offsets, please visit www.sierragorda.net.