As individuals, families and businesses seek to “go green” they will encounter many different options to reduce or offset their carbon dioxide emissions. It is understandable that these people want a clear idea of how their green investments will impact the planet today and moving forward.
When supporting RTT, forest sponsors receive a very clear and tangible outcome: credits from a new, biologically and economically sustainable, tropical forest. One of the first steps for RTT is to set up a sign that identifies the funder and key information about the forest.
The carbon that is captured in the new forest is credited to the donor for the duration of the 25-year contract period. This contract can be renewed indefinitely. RTT data indicates that a forest sponsor can expect approximately 20 metric tons of carbon to be sequestered each year, for a total of 500 MT of carbon over 25 years. The sponsor may achieve a higher rate of production in the forest. Carbon can be used for one’s personal goals of environmental stewardship or can be used as a powerful marketing tool for any business.
The forests are subject to weekly monitoring and management and are measured annually. Measurements are audited by an independent forestry consultant, who issues a letter that supports the validity of the program. RTT forests are not verified for trade in international carbon markets. The cost for verification is prohibitive and unnecessary for the global goal of greenhouse gas reductions. Forest sponsors can pay for verification and participate in carbon markets should they desire.
What sets RTT apart from other carbon balancing options?
Sustainability: The RTT model is not simply a “plant a tree” program, rather it is a scientific approach to develop a biologically and economically sustainable ecosystem that can remain as forest perpetually. By making the project financially competitive with alternative land use activities AND by designing the forest to be regenerative, the likelihood that the forest will be standing in 100 years is far more favorable than other reforestation models.
Forest Design: The RTT Director of Research, Dr. Herster Barres, has dedicated over 50 years to research in tropical forestry. Through these decades of research, Dr. Barres has designed a forestry model which is able to sequester an impressive amount of carbon WHILE ALSO allowing landowners to benefit economically from the sale of timber from necessary forest thinnings. Allowing the landowner to profit encourages him/her to keep the land forested, as opposed to cutting it down for an alternative land-use activity.
Risk Mitigation: Tree species are susceptible to disease and insects. Tree species have been wiped out in certain areas throughout the world when a malady finds its niche. The RTT model mitigates this risk by using a mixed-species model. Not only does a mixed-species model reduce the hazard of inviting disease through species overcrowding, but it also reduces the risk of catastrophic loss if a disease does manage to take hold of a forest stand. Also, the mixed species model allows for biodiversity and habitat creation for local fauna.
Carbon Extraction: A potential donor may look towards purchasing carbon RECs or engage in emissions reduction efforts to balance their carbon output. At RTT, we applaud any effort to go green, however we also recognize the need to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There are three methods to extract CO2 from the atmosphere: fertilizing the oceans, a risky method that will exacerbate the problem of an already too acidic ocean; smokestack “scrubbers,” which are estimated to remove and store CO2 for a price of approximately $200 per metric ton (The Economist; Mar. 5, 2009); and reforestation; which under the RTT model is safe, sustainable and far more cost effective.
RTT REFORESTATION COSTS:
½ Hectare Family Forest – $7,500
1-5 Hectares – $15,000 per hectare
6-10 Hectares – $10,000 per hectare
10 Hectares and above – $7,500 per hectare
RTT assumes the long-term management of each sponsored forest project in cooperation with the farmer. Donors are assigned a specific forest with a large sign that identifies them as the sponsor. They’ll receive annual reports with the forest measurements, including the amount of CO2 captured, and photos that show the growth of the forest.
As the projects become larger, the cost decreases.
Reforest The Tropics organizes projects into hectares, which is the traditional unit of measurement for forestry projects both in the United States and abroad. One hectare is equivalent to 2.47 acres.