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making carbon count

In recent years there have been huge opportunities for the private sector to invest in carbon offsetting projects. However, only those that consider the needs of local people will work for the long term. The future is therefore in ‘conservation carbon’ projects that protect and restore forests, offset carbon emissions and benefit local communities. This approach also recognises that forests not only capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but also are home to a vast array of threatened flora and fauna and are vital to poor people's livelihoods.

This year women smallholder farmers in Yako district in Northern Burkina Faso will begin to develop forest management plans in 6 forests around their villages. They will decide which parts of the forest will be used for collecting fuel wood, grazing animals and collecting trees foods and products – and which parts will be protected for tree planting and for assisting trees to regenerate naturally. They will be responsible for planting 84,000 trees and managing 120 hectares of land to Plan Vivo Standards. These activities will capture 4,800 tonnes of CO2, generating ‘carbon credits’ for these groups worth approximately £12,500 per year.

Working with TREE AID and BioClimate, women will work to see these forest management plans certified under the Plan Vivo system – a system that will enable these extremely poor smallholders to benefit from voluntary carbon payments, which under other schemes have largely failed to reach poor people. TREE AID will also support women to establish enterprise groups selling shea butter and honey, enabling another source of income. In this poorest region of one of the poorest countries on earth, opportunities to generate income beyond that earned from staple agricultural crops are exceptionally important, especially as drought has dramatically reduced yields and led to food shortages for many living there.

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