Thursday, 19 October 2006

Trees That Work Harder

We've known for a long time that trees absorb the greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere. In fact, tree planting is an approved carbon offsetting approach under the Kyoto Protocol's "Clean Development Mechanism" - signed by the UK and 165 other governments.

But planting trees in developing countries can do more than fight climate change - it can create a "virtuous circle" of environmental and social improvement.

Desertification affects over 250 million people worldwide, as climate change and poor management practices in the past cause vital agricultural land to be lost to deserts. With less land to grow food, insecurity and poverty become more of a threat. Now trees are helping local communities fight back.

Tree roots prevent soil from being blown away by the wind, and can help replenish the soil. Meanwhile, the branches and leaves provide shade for smaller bushes and crops. The leaves and fruit of the trees provide food and medicines for the community, and nutrients to fortify the soil. This helps farmers grow more food and fodder for their livestock, and the livestock's manure enriches the soil even further.

Thanks to an ambitious tree planting programme, Niger, a country on the borders of the Sahara Desert, has managed to reclaim 250,000 hectares of degraded land and return it to production. Local farmers, and especially women, are seeingthe benefit:

"Thanks to the increase in the vegetation coverage, we are not dependent on others any more," said Idder Addo, a 60-year-old farmer from Batoudi, near Tahoua. "We can do vegetable and fruit plantations that bring us money."

"Women can spend more time developing crops, they have more money, and then they can do other businesses such as livestock and forestry. That means their children can go to schools and their land is more valued...Child mortality has dropped in the region as well, partly thanks to food diversification, [Nigerien Agronomics Research Institute researcher Germaine] Ibro said.

At Carbon Clear, we're strong supporters of efforts like these. We recognise that people in the developing world are most at risk from climate change. That's why we invest in tree planting projects to help local farmers restore degraded land and reduce their vulnerability, while absorbing CO2. And of course, we employ rigorous monitoring and tracking to ensure that the climate benefits from these projects are real.

The developing world needs a lot more trees. When you buy an offset package from Carbon Clear, you're contributing to this effort.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)