Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to see the answer. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can message us at the bottom of this page or alternatively visit the contact us page to ask your question.
What is carbon balancing?
The idea behind Carbon Balancing (offsetting) is that even when all steps have been taken by a given entity (say a firm, charity or individual) to reduce emissions at source, some residual greenhouse gas emissions are unavoidable.
These emissions can be countered if one takes steps to avert emissions elsewhere – i.e. to offset or balance them. The World Land Trust (WLT) Carbon Balanced program balance these emissions through the protection of forests that are imminently threatened, the destruction of which would release greenhouse gases, and through the restoration of forest habitats, which sequester atmospheric carbon as they grow.
WHAT IS THE WORLD LAND TRUST?
World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre.
Through a network of partner organizations around the world, WLT funds the creation of reserves and provides permanent protection for habitats and wildlife. Partnerships are developed with established and highly respected local organizations that engage support and commitment among the local community.
WHAT IS CARBON SEQUESTRATION?
Carbon sequestration is the uptake and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by carbon ‘sinks’. Approximately half the mass of a tree is carbon, making forests terrestrial carbon sinks. Forest vegetation absorb atmospheric CO2 and lock the carbon in their tissues while they are growing, retaining it in their biomass. Soil organic matter, derived from dead plant and animal material, is also an important store of carbon. A variable portion of this stocked carbon is, however, released if the forest vegetation is cut down and if soils are disturbed. Permanent forest removal or deforestation is, in fact, responsible for 20% of the global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the combined global emissions of cars, boats and planes.
BALANCING DOESN’T ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF EMISSIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE! AREN’T REDUCTIONS OF EMISSIONS AT SOURCE THE ANSWER?
We agree completely and the first step, both for individuals and businesses, should be to reduce emissions at source as much as possible. However, though balancing should not be used to escape reductions at source, it should be used alongside them as part of a complete and effective response to reducing CO2 concentrations.
WHAT IS RESTORATION ECOLOGY?
Restoration Ecology is concerned with the rehabilitation of cleared and degraded habitat. WLT Ecosystem Services projects are specifically designed to benefit biodiversity and use a mixture of avoided deforestation, planting and assisted natural regeneration techniques to protect and re-establish critically endangered habitat. In practically all cases, WLT restoration ecology projects are used to extend, buffer or connect existing reserves.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AVOIDED DEFORESTATION, WOODLAND REHABILITION, ASSISTED NATURAL REGENERATION AND TREE-PLANTING?
Avoided deforestation is the protection of forest which is under the imminent threat of clearance. Through this protection the carbon dioxide emissions which would have been released to the atmosphere through combustion and decomposition are prevented. Woodland rehabilitation involves removing the factors – e.g. grazing cattle, fire, logging or wood harvesting – that are degrading forest cover. Assisted natural regeneration takes place where the land has already been completely cleared, consisting of removing the constraints preventing re-establishment of natural vegetation. All this involves boosting self-sown trees – we now prefer to plant native trees only where assisted natural regeneration would not be successful or would benefit from enrichment – e.g. on eroded soils or where natural seed sources are distant.
IS PRESERVING MATURE HABITAT THROUGH AVOIDED DEFORESTATION BETTER IN TERMS OF CARBON OFFSETTING THAN PLANTING NEW TREES?
Both avoided deforestation and planting techniques are equally important. The destruction of mature forest is responsible for 20% of the global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the cumulative global emissions of cars, boats and planes. It is better for biodiversity to preserve existing habitat rather than trying to recreate it, which is why the Carbon Balanced program strongly promotes avoided deforestation as part of its projects. However, in some parts of the world, the land is so degraded that restoration through tree planting is critical. In practice all the techniques are needed to protect and restore a given parcel of forest – this obviously means restoring what has already been cleared through planting supplementing natural regeneration as well as protecting what forest still remains.
ARE CARBON BALANCED PROJECT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED?
World Land Trust is committed to transparency in all elements of project design. All WLT carbon offsetting projects are designed according to the exacting principles of the internationally recognized Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standard. This standard is well-suited to our projects, being specifically devised for the voluntary market, and in particular, projects with wider-ranging biodiversity and local community objectives. Carbon Balanced projects address in full the principles behind the CCB guidance. However, WLT actively choose not to submit these smaller projects for independent certification due to the costs involved, and the limitations to the flexibility and innovation in project design that certification would bring. The larger Validated REDD+ projects are designed and submitted for validation under the CCB Standard. Methodologies for carbon sequestration approved under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) are used in the design of emissions offsetting elements of WLT carbon sequestration projects.
WHERE DO CARBON BALANCED PROJECTS TAKE PLACE?
Carbon Balanced Paper projects are focused on WLT’s self-certified Portfolio of projects: Vietnam, Mexico and Ecuador. For businesses that require additional verification, World Land Trust’s project in Guatemala is externally verified to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCB).
DO WLT OWN THE LAND WHERE THE PLANTING AND RESTORATION TAKES PLACE?
No. The land is owned by a WLT local partner organization and is incorporated into an existing reserve to be managed for conservation purposes in perpetuity (in legal terms this means a minimum of a century). WLT have an agreement with the local partner organization to this effect.
DO WLT PROTECT THIS AREA OF LAND / TROPICAL FOREST FROM BEING DESTROYED?
WLT ensures that long-term contracts are established for the ownership and management of all the land it acquires. WLT has been managing land acquisition projects since 1989 and are accustomed to working with governments and the private sector to ensure protection in perpetuity. Local project partners oversee the management and protection of the land on the ground. The costs of this work are built into the offset price.
WHEN WLT PROTECTS AN AREA OF LAND, WHAT PRECAUTIONS ARE TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT THE DESTRUCTIVE ACTIVITIES ARE NOT JUST DISPLACED ELSEWHERE?
WLT has extensive experience in buying and managing endangered land. By forming partnerships with local NGO organizations, WLT enlists the help of local indigenous communities to assist in the protection and management of the land. All carbon stock calculations factor in a mandatory reduction for leakage. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest a 30-40% reduction in the total carbon stock and WLT always apply a 40% reduction unless there is satisfactory evidence to the contrary.