Rio+20 Business Focus: A new approach to carbon compensation

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RTCC is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

Carbon offsetting is a complex process, and needs effective measuring and verification processes. Investment experts ‘The Livelihoods Fund‘ have first hand experience of how to set up and run projects – this is their story.

Since, 2008, in the Casamance and Sine Saloum regions of Senegal, Livelihoods Fund has been experimenting with a new approach to carbon compensation for and by rural communities.

The project is spread across 400-plus villages in the Casamance and Sine Saloum regions of Senegal.

Substantially more than 100 million mangrove plants have been planted to restore mangroves swamps, boost fish supply and generate carbon credits. The project involves planting mangroves of the Rhizophora species in suitable areas.

It is a decentralized project with sites spread across 400-plus villages in the two regions. Livelihoods Fund is working with a local association called Oceanium, which has been active in the area since 1990, in its efforts to preserve the intertidal environment through mangrove restoration.

The sites that were chosen for restoration were degraded mangroves habitats, which were converted by local people for pig farming or rice cultivation.

Mangrove restoration, among other things, is providing fishery resources (fish, shellfish, crustacean), fuel wood for local communities and, through improved hydrology, can increase rice yields.

The Livelihoods project has restored 1,780 hectares in 2009 and 4,900 hectares in 2010 and 2011 providing a carbon capture potential of 750,000 tons of CO2 over 20 years time.

The project has restored 1,780 hectares in 2009 and 4,900 hectares in 2010 and 2011 providing a carbon capture potential of 750,000 tons of CO2 over 20 years time.

At the same time, it will help over 400 villages to maximise the benefits of their local ecosystem, through improved resources in fish and shellfish and in buffering against the “salinisation” of farming grounds.

The project has now been submitted for final validation to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change-Clean Development Mechanism (UNFCCC-CDM) board.

The Senegal Designated National Authority has approved the project which has enabled the Fund to address the issue of ownership of the trees (public, communal or traditional) and the carbon assets.

In addition, Livelihoods Fund has developed a carbon accounting and reporting methodology to account and report net carbon sequestration of large scale Mangroves restoration projects, with field testing on this project.

The Methodology was approved by the CDM and entitled as “Afforestation and reforestation of degraded mangroves habitats” AR-AM0014.

The success of the Senegalese mangrove restoration project will potentially benefit other projects in other countries by demonstrating the possibility of up-scaling “small scale” mangrove projects to “high scale” ones, conversion of a localized annual project into a multiyear and multi site project and inclusion of below-ground biomass in a carbon pool to allow accounting of net carbon sequestration through mangrove restoration.

Livelihoods fund is a unique carbon investment fund that provides its investors access to carbon credits encapsulating a commitment to nature-based biodiversity and community development projects.

Its fundamental goal is to create social value for rural communities and contribute to their food security through the restoration of their ecosystems. Livelihoods Fund now unites 5 investors: Danone, Credit Agricole, Schneider Electric, French Post and CDC Climat and invests in carbon mitigation projects that in return, generate carbon credits for fund investors to offset their own C02 emissions or sell the credits.

Livelihoods is open to partner with other co-founders, for example Voyageurs du Monde in Senegal. Projects under the fund are based in developing countries and are vetted by an Advisory Board, of which IUCN is a member.

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