Paso Pacifico Awarded Gold Rating for Innovative Reforestation Project in Nicaragua Leads International Web of Partnerships to Fight Climate


Apr 23, 2008, 01:00 ET from

    VENTURA, Calif., April 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Paso Pacifico,, the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), and
 the Rainforest Alliance announce an innovative reforestation project,
 Return to Forest, aimed at combating climate change, conserving
 biodiversity and supporting local communities in Nicaragua. This exciting
 project is using carbon finance to restore hundreds of acres of moist and
 dry tropical forest in Central America's most critically endangered
 ecosystems and was awarded the highest standard "Gold" rating of the
 Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards.
     Deforestation causes up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
 globally. Responsible reforestation projects thus carry great potential for
 mitigating climate change. Nicaragua, a country that has forestland
 covering about 40 percent of its area, lost about 20 percent of its forests
 between 1990 and 2005, much of it the result of cattle ranching and
 agriculture. For the past three years, Paso Pacifico, a California-based
 nonprofit conservation organization, has been working to restore and
 protect natural ecosystems in Nicaragua.
     "Small developing nations are often ignored within the climate change
 debate," said Sarah Otterstrom, executive director for Paso Pacifico, "yet
 they are a key piece of the solution. Paso Pacifico's efforts in Nicaragua
 capitalize on the great ability of tropical forests to reduce greenhouse
 gases while also contributing to its sustainable development."
     The organizations Return to Forest project is using carbon finance to
 reforest about 1,000 acres (406 hectares) of land in the southwestern
 region of Nicaragua to mitigate climate change while supporting local
 communities and conserving biodiversity. The Rivas Isthmus in southwestern
 Nicaragua is a rural area that is home to a wealth of biodiversity
 including sea turtles, yellow-naped parrot, and spider monkeys. It is also
 a region where nearly a quarter of the population lives in extreme poverty.
 Through the planting of some 70 varieties of native tree species, Paso
 Pacifico and aim to restore a biological corridor in the
 region and will offset the emission of an estimated 170,000 tons of CO2
 over the next 40 years.
     The Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit conservation organization based in
 New York, served as the third-party independent certifier to evaluate the
 project proposal to standards that ensure support for local communities,
 biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. "By earning the
 highest rating to the CCB standards, Paso Pacifico and have
 proven this project is designed in a way that will conserve biodiversity
 and support local communities while mitigating climate change," said Jeff
 Hayward, verification services manager at the Rainforest Alliance. "Carbon
 finance holds great promise in helping restore endangered ecosystems such
 as Central America's tropical forests, and the Rainforest Alliance
 congratulates both organizations on the launch of this ambitious project."
     The project organizers also aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by
 promoting alternative livelihoods through activities such as sustainable
 agriculture and ranching. In addition, the program supports forest-based
 activities, including sustainable tourism and the harvesting of non-timber
 forest products. Paso Pacifico is involving local residents in
 reforestation efforts, providing employment opportunities and offering
 training on sustainable agriculture and tourism, among other things.
     "Paso Pacifico's Return to Forest project is just the sort of
 high-quality multiple benefit forest carbon project that the CCB Standards
 aim to identify," said Joanna Durbin, director of the Climate, Community
 and Biodiversity Alliance. "Local farmers are closely involved in the
 project design and implementation and they benefit directly from the carbon
 revenues, not by degrading native forests but by restoring them, bringing
 global climate benefits as well as improving habitats for endangered
 wildlife.", a Maryland-based nonprofit carbon offset and climate
 change solutions provider, assisted with creating the project and is the
 primary funder of the project. is facilitating the purchase
 and the sale of the carbon that will be sequestered through the project.
 "Return to Forest is a landmark project for It's not only
 offsetting 170,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, but also
 restoring tropical dry forests which are an endangered ecosystem," said
 Eric Carlson, executive director of "The project also gives
 back to the local community and is creating opportunity for more
 eco-tourism. We're very proud to celebrate this accomplishment with Paso
 Pacifico, the Rainforest Alliance and the CCBA. The partnerships formed
 between these organizations should serve as model for future reforestation
 projects that will both positively impact the local community and help
 mitigate global climate change."
     About the organizations:
     Paso Pacifico is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to
 protect Central America's Pacific slope ecosystems. The non-profit
 implements projects in environmental education, sustainable agriculture,
 forest restoration and wildlife conservation. Through these actions Paso
 Pacifico is creating western Nicaragua's first biological corridor. For
 more information, visit works to reduce the threat of climate change by
 promoting cost-effective carbon reductions and supporting renewable energy,
 energy efficiency and reforestation projects globally that reduce and
 offset carbon dioxide emissions. For more information, visit