VENTURA, Calif., April 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Paso Pacifico,
Carbonfund.org, 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 Carbonfund.org 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 Carbonfund.org 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
Carbonfund.org, a Maryland-based nonprofit carbon offset and climate
change solutions provider, assisted with creating the project and is the
primary funder of the project. Carbonfund.org 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 Carbonfund.org. 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 Carbonfund.org. "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 www.pasopacifico.org.
Carbonfund.org 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