Written by Felipe Jiménez, Climate Change Mitigation Consultant
Humankind is destroying natural environments at accelerating rates. Deforestation, extensive agriculture, climate change, habitat invasion, biodiversity loss, and wildlife traffic, not only destroy vital ecosystem goods and services for humans but also open the way to zoonotic diseases and contamination of urban centers exposing people to deadly pathogens like the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the current Covid-19 pandemic. It was a matter of time for this time bomb to explode and cause such a dramatic impact in the world, as a result of environmental overexploitation and biodiversity’s mismanagement.
Governments, with the help of local and international organizations, have a great opportunity and responsibility to set their countries and the world on a more sustainable path. Currently, policies and subsidies have been structured towards the protection and conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. Governments have understood the importance of reforming subsidies that are harmful to nature and introducing the payment of taxes for those activities involved in environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. The encouragement and promotion of effective nature-based projects and the strengthening of environmental monitoring and regulation procedures are being backed up by the governments and private sector initiative of creating more nature-based jobs. This in turn boosts up the economy and supports recovery processes within the ecosystems, promoting biodiversity’s conservation and restoration.
In addition to these actions, governments all around the world have banned wildlife traffic and taken precautionary measures to ensure food security and healthy consumption. In the same way, society leaders have conducted educational campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of establishing more sustainable alternative activities and confronting the problem through green investment and reinforcement of a more environmentally friendly economy and market.
Given the current situation, ALLCOT has a clear vision of its role in enhancing practices for the promotion of a resilient and well-functioning ecosystem. As a leader in the formulation of sustainable and climate change mitigation projects, ALLCOT supports the conservation of ecosystems and thus, the protection of biodiversity. Through the projects focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, ALLCOT tackles deforestation and forest fragmentation restoring biological corridors and protecting flora and fauna species, especially those key species considered vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered due to their role as environmental indicators of a healthy ecosystem. Together with the mitigation and climate action scheme, ALLCOT develops a variety of sustainable initiatives around renewable energy, energy and resource management, and waste management. Through these series of projects, the organization conducts a qualitative evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that could be positively impacted by the project’s activities and is currently working on a methodology that will allow monitoring this impact.
Among the activities that support the implementation of these programs, the projects include educational campaigns towards wildlife traffic, the correct resource, and environmental management, finance administration, governance, social leadership, etc. Additionally, supporting the previous idea of the encouragement and promotion of nature-based projects, ALLCOT develops well-structured plans that involve local community participation which gives them the opportunity to establish and learn about sustainable alternative activities and businesses.
We must realize that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. Resources overexploitation, plastic pollution, overfishing, and the contamination of water sources are some additional critical issues that humankind must confront through the alignment of sustainable initiatives and actions. The formulation of such nature-based projects must receive clear support from the government and the private sector. These investments and subsidies will create a more resilient economy and will also tackle social problems such as poverty and hunger. Allcot’s contribution to the conformation and realization of these projects highlights the strong commitment that the organization has with the Paris Agreement objectives and the 2030 Agenda goals.
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