Rainforests brought back to life as 'carbon trading' takes off

A A A

New forests could blossom in tropical zones from Brazil to India as one of the more creative ideas produced by the Kyoto protocol begins to bear fruit. Someone has finally hit on a way to make money out of conservation.

Behind the idea is the fact that all Kyoto signatories are required to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide, or face heavy fines - but if they cannot bring themselves to cut the emissions, they can buy "carbon credits" from countries or companies that are doing so.

The system works because greenhouse gases are a problem for the world, not merely for countries where the emissions take place. Likewise "carbon sinks", the forested areas that reduce the net quantity of global carbon emissions, can be anywhere.

As reported in The Independent yesterday, a bloc of 10 Third World countries styling themselves the Rainforest Coalition, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, are to lobby the United Nations conference on climate control in Montreal this weekend to launch a system whereby such countries will be paid at the going carbon-credit rate for preserving their forests. At present this is $20 (£11.50) for one credit, which is the equivalent of a one-ton unit of carbon dioxide.

Not to be outdone, a newly launched London-based finance company dealing in the "new carbon economy" has raised £68m from international investors to pour into raising new forests on land that has been logged out.

Carbon Capital, founded by Edward Seyfried last year, has established eight carbon trading partnerships around the world, from Brazil to China by way of Uganda, Kenya and India. "Each of the partners is seeking to generate their own carbon credits cheaply and sell them on," Mr Seyfried said. In total, the eight projects cover 450,000 acres of land that was formerly forested.

The first project, run by a company called Carbon Positive, is getting under way in Para, Brazil:seedlings are due to be planted out in the coming weeks, during the expected wet, mild weather. Decades ago, the forest in Para was cut down and a rubber plantation, owned by one of the big American automobile companies, was put in its place. But, within a year, the rubber trees were killed off by blight and the plantation was abandoned.

After three years, the pilot project will be examined by the officials of the Kyoto protocol's Clean Development Mechanism to see if it fulfils stringent criteria. Not only must the new forest replicate the biodiversity of the original one, but 20 per cent of the land must be devoted to commercial schemes that make sense, and money, for the local people. As Mr Seyfried says: "It's no good kicking people off their land so they simply go and deforest somewhere else."

If the officials give the project a certificate, the area of new forest will be enormously expanded. Mr Seyfried says: "Commercial solutions to global problems are better than charitable ones. We are trying to arrange it so that the Brazilian squatter farmer gets as much out of these schemes as the fat, cigar-chomping London banker."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003