Rainforest Alliance Validates First Carbon Offset Project to Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance Standards in Indonesia

February 8, 2008

In an effort to mitigate the effects of global warming, the Rainforest Alliance -- which has begun to promote forest conservation as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- completed its first validation of a project proposal in Indonesia to the standards of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA).

The Rainforest Alliance served as an independent third-party auditor to evaluate a project that will use carbon finance to conserve forestland in one of the last unprotected tracts of tropical forest on the island of Sumatra. This validation means the project meets the environmental and social requirements of the CCBA, an international standard-setter for land-based projects that aim to curb climate change.

"This is an ambitious project to conserve vital forest landscape in Indonesia," said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. "Financial incentives for reducing carbon emissions have great potential to encourage forest conservation, but it is important that such projects meet international standards and receive validation from independent third parties to protect biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods."

The project that was validated is being organized by the local government in the province of Aceh, the UK-based conservation organization Fauna & Flora International and the Australia-based ecosystem services company Carbon Conservation Ltd.

Sumatran Tiger -- Photo Provided By Evan Bowen-Jones, Fauna & Flora International

Project organizers estimate they will be able to reduce deforestation on 1.85 million acres (750,000 hectares) of land by 85 percent over 30 years and thereby avoid the emission of more than 3.3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This will be accomplished largely by transforming logging concessions into conservation areas and community forestry zones where limited harvesting is allowed.

Local residents will benefit by receiving financial incentives to protect their resources and develop alternative livelihoods such as sustainable small-scale forestry operations and agro-forests using income from carbon sales. In addition, the project will support increased forest monitoring, provide funding to civil society organizations to monitor project activities, and support the restoration and reforestation of mangroves, fruit tree gardens, coffee plantations and woodlots.

"The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance congratulates the developers of the Ulu Masen Ecosystem project for becoming the first project validated under our standards that is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a result of deforestation in development countries," said Joanna Durbin, director of the CCBA.

The CCBA standards encompass 15 criteria related to the impacts a project will have on climate, communities and biodiversity. They address land tenure, the social and economic well-being of local communities, improvement of water and soil resources, and the use of native tree and plant species, among other things.

Indonesia has the highest deforestation rates in the world, losing some 4.6 million acres (1.87 million hectares) of forest annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Illegal logging and large-scale industrial logging are prevalent, and natural forests are also converted to plantations and farms.

Forest -- Photo Provided By Fauna & Flora International

Located on the northern tip of Sumatra, Aceh is one of the country's poorest provinces, with nearly half of its four million people living below the poverty line. Until recently, the province was ravaged by years of armed conflict between a separatist group and the government. The 2004 tsunami left hundreds of thousands of Aceh residents dead, missing or homeless. The province is also home to a wealth of biodiversity, including the Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhinoceros and orangutan; more than 300 species of birds; and dozens of species of reptiles and amphibians.

"The future of tropical forests depends on the ability of global carbon markets to bring resources to communities that have a clear plan for reducing carbon emissions," said Dorjee Sun, the CEO of Carbon Conservation. "This conservation strategy is part of Aceh Green, a new strategy to develop green-certified soft commodities in Aceh to relieve pressures on forests and provide sustainable livelihoods."

"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," said Irwandi Yusuf, governor of Aceh Province. "This is only the first step of many. The hard work will be in financing and implementing our proposed project activities to help preserve the largest remaining bloc of unprotected Sumatran forests."

"We are pleased our team in Aceh has received a strong endorsement for their conservation field program," said Mark Rose, chief executive officer of Fauna & Flora International. "We will continue to work closely with the Indonesian government to develop this tool for large-scale forest conservation."

The Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit conservation organization, has two decades of experience in setting standards for sustainable land management. We are the leading certifier of forestlands to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. We are also the secretariat of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of non-governmental organizations that sets standards for sustainable production of tropical crops including coffee, cocoa, bananas, pineapple, citrus, tea, and ferns and flowers.

Building on this experience, the Rainforest Alliance became an accredited verifier to international standards of greenhouse gas sequestration projects under the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance; Plan Vivo; and the Chicago Climate Exchange in 2007. We also connect companies with community-run carbon credit projects that promote sustainable land use.

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