Reduction of Co2 emissions from deforestation through community projects
By Andrés Melendro, Sustainability Consultant.
ALLCOT is currently developing a REDD + project (Reduction of Co2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) in the south of the Department of Meta, in Colombia. The project area is located in a transition zone between the Amazon and the Orinoco bassins. In the vicinity of the project, the area is the La Macarena Special Management Area, within which are included four Natural Parks. Unfortunately, during the first weeks of 2020 there have been numerous fires. La Macarena and Tinigua National Parks have been particularly affected. According to the Environmental Information System for the Colombian Amazon (SIAT-AC), during the first two months of the year there have been around 7000 heat points in the department of Meta, almost all in the municipality of La Macarena.
According to the inventory of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) established by the IDEAM (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies) of Colombia, in 2015, the AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land use) accounted for 55% of Colombia’s total emissions. In other words, AFOLU is more determinant than transportation, industry and energy combined. These figures highlight the importance of the forestry sector in Colombia’s climate change mitigation strategy and the severity of current fires.
The drivers and perpetrators for this wave of deforestation are not entirely clear. There are several hypotheses, namely the economic interests of moving the agricultural frontier forward, for both licit and illicit crops; the benefits of converting forest into grassland for livestock; but also, a few studies hypotheses related to speculation and hoarding of “cleared” land.
In the eyes of the Government, the dissent of the extinct FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla are the main actors in this process and their objective is the planting of coca plants. However, according to serious journalistic investigations, large landowners are also promoting the arrival of settlers in the Natural Parks and financing deforestation. Degrading the environmental value of the land, located both inside and outside of protected areas, by cutting down the forest and later introducing livestock, is a perverse strategy to one day trigger the legalization and subsequent valuation of these lands. Settlers degrade, occupy the land and further sell it at low cost to illegal land hoarders. These two actors sign purchase agreements of unduly occupied vacant lots, and over time they manage to validate and finally authenticate these certificates in notaries.
This vicious circle explains the fires that today destroy the same forests that our REDD + project aims to protect. The current conjuncture of forest degradation both within and outside protected areas highlights the importance of promoting voluntary schemes such as REDD + since monitoring and control are not enough. The work that ALLCOT carries out through its emissions reduction projects complements enforcement carried by the environmental authorities and the operations of the Military Forces such as Operation “Artemisa”.
By offering financial incentives to avoid deforestation in the Southern Meta, ALLCOT’s REDD+ project supports local communities in their productive reorientation. ALLCOT works with them to define the most viable sustainable productive projects and uses the income derived from the sale of carbon credits serves to finance them. Whether through technical assistance, purchasing materials, building infrastructure or structuring business plans and marketing strategies, REDD+ represents the opportunity to reconcile local economic development and climate change mitigation.
Each hectare burned in the area of influence of our projects is one extra reason to continue protecting the forest through the REDD+ scheme.
Proyecto Redd+, Sur del Meta