We are all aware that climate change and species extinctions are two major issues facing the planet, but less well known is that the answer to both is to increase the area of natural forest. Despite knowing this, the world is still deforesting, even in the face of these major threats to survival. Opwall working with an associated Indonesian NGO is targeting social forestry areas which are the frontline of deforestation in the third largest remaining stands of tropical forests. Social forests in Indonesia are areas of forest that are granted 35 year leases by the govt to local communities to manage in exchange for ensuring their community members don’t continue damaging the state forests. This is an excellent scheme because it helps by giving land to communities, but the downside is that there is no funding following these designations. The result is that the social forestry areas continue to get damaged and eventually are turned into agricultural land and end up being the front line of forest loss!
The scheme that Opwall is working on involves paying local communities to not exploit their newly acquired social forests, to add additional rainforest tree saplings and to maintain the regeneration of the forests for 15 years. This will increase the carbon storage and biodiversity value of the forests. After 15 years they are allowed to harvest 2.5% per annum of the trees for commercial use (building, furniture and other uses that don’t release the stored carbon) as long as harvested trees are replaced by multiple new saplings. This puts the forests on a 40-year harvesting regime, maintains carbon storage, provides a sustainable income for the local communities and results in multi-age forests that are significantly better for biodiversity than single age stands.
For those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint then they can donate $10 (£7.60) per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted to an associated UK charity – the Wallacea Trust. To calculate your carbon footprint you can use one of the many carbon calculators on line such as My Climate, Treedom, International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge and many others. Funds donated to the Wallacea Trust are helping with tree nurseries and with developing these reforestation schemes. Indeed, if you are travelling on one of the Indonesia expeditions you can see the projects for yourself!
Some educational establishments are trying to offset the total carbon emissions of their operations and if your school or university is interested in using reforestation as the method for offsetting, then please ask them to contact Dr Dan Exton (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a quote on getting certified carbon offset credits. The certified credits would be issued by Plan Vivo, a leading carbon certification scheme which also includes community and biodiversity co-benefits of supported carbon schemes.