Carbon Offsets

Carbon is mostly stored in trees, logs, and soil and carbon sequestration is an important ecosystem service. Deforestation causes carbon to be released into the atmosphere adding to carbon already released by other activities and affecting the climate. Carbon offsets are a growing method of conservation and FCD is looking at the possibility of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). In this system, nations or companies must buy credits in order to produce carbon emissions. These credits come from large carbon stores, like forests, which are being preserved in order to balance out carbon emissons. In Tropical Rainforests, most carbon is stored in the soil and in living trees. Therefore, it is important for FCD to reforest and protect the trees in Chiquibul National Park to be able to participate in the carbon offset market. This system can help mitigate climate change but also the payments can be a major source of revenue to use in the conservation of the park.

Currently, the estimated above ground carbon stock for the entire 177,000 hectares of the Chiquibul Forest is 28.3 metric tons and the below ground carbon stock is estimated to be 36.3 million metric tons.2 The entire Chiquibul forest is estimated to be worth $931 million dollars.FCD is working with REDD, a UN collaborative program that works to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.2 If deforestation can be reduced or stopped, REDD can sell the credits for the carbon that was not released. This is called avoided deforestation and is being employed in developing countries.2 FCD is currently working to get a Chiquibul REDD project underway but there is a lot of groundwork to be done before implementation can occur.

A major flaw of the current REDD system is that trees in protected areas cannot be included, therefore taking the Chiquibul National Park and Forest Reserve out of the picture for carbon credits. In addition, Belize does not have the legal framework to venture into a carbon credit mechanism. Part of the reason is that many of the Acts in Belize such as the Forest Act, Land Utilization Act, and National Park System Act conflict with one another. Therefore, in order to make this system work, Belize would need to restructure their Acts and create a framework that would support carbon credits.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 2.06.31 PMFCD Tracks Newsletter August 2011

Videos

Video one explains the flaw in the REDD carbon offset system and the conflicting Acts in Belize that prevents the Chiquibul from participating in a carbon offset system. Video two describes the process of forest regeneration and monitoring carbon stocks through sampling plots.

Required Reading:
2 The Chiquibul Forest. A Carbon Conservation Area.
22Carbon in the Chiquibul Brochure
23Belize Carbon Portfolio 2013 REDD
Logging Costs Millions in Carbon Stocks

2Cho, P.P. (2011). The Chiquibul Forest. A Carbon Conservation Area. Friends for Conservation and Development.