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Case Study # 13


In 2002 The Home Depot Foundation in Atlanta, GA sponsored a demonstration forest in Costa Rica to explore the possibilities of balancing US greenhouse gas emissions while producing wood on farms in the tropics.  This was done in cooperation with Reforest The Tropics, a CT-based, non-profit organization.  RTT manages a UNFCCC-AIJ program to develop and demonstrate an advanced model of tropical farm forests for those purposes.

RTT works with a limited number of farms in Costa Rica in 33 joint venture forests sponsored by US donors. The Home Depot forest is on the Las Delicias Farm owned by the Rojas Family.  Donations to RTT from The HD Foundation provided a grant to the farm and a contribution towards the costs of establishment and management of this pilot project.

This graph shows the total (upper lines) and current annual (last 12 months, lower lines) sequestration in tonnes of CO2 and m3 of wood production.  The current annual sequestration was 29.4 tonnes of CO2, down from the past year.  The total amount of CO2 stored in the forest in the past 6.64 years is 170.9 tonnes of CO2.  The current and total production in cubic meters of wood is 33 & 188 m3, respectively.  The average annual sequestration and production since planted are 25.7 tonnes and 28.3 m3, respectively.

Long-term management and profitability for the farmer are the keys to   sustainability and long-term carbon storage in farm forests. This project is managed by RTT under a 25-year agreement between RTT and the farm owners. The forest belongs to the farmer while the rights to the CO2 sequestered belong to Home Depot, the forest sponsor, during the agreement.

The goal of the specialized management plan is a sustainable forest that produces a significant cash flow for the farmer while sequestering CO2 efficiently and indefinitely in the forest stand for the US sponsor.  The income will come from the sale of frequent and light thinnings to keep the forest healthy and growing well.  The forest is designed using a mixture of tree species selected for biodiversity, biological stability, fast-growth for early farmer income, wood value and reliability of long-term carbon sequestration.  The Rojas family farm hosts 19 projects.

After the first 25-year contract, the farmer may continue selling additional verified offsets, either to the same sponsor or on the world market.  By then, carbon offsets from new tropical forests could be established as a viable farm product.

Millions of acres of tropical farm pastures are available for carbon storage and wood production.  With advances in bio-fuel chemistry, these sustainable forests may eventually both store CO2, produce wood to be converted to bio-fuels and feed local populations.  Additionally, newer RTT forest models are being designed to sequester even more CO2/$ invested and to be wildlife friendly.

CO2 sequestration graph

CO2 sequestration graph