; How can AFOLU projects combat climate change? - Strive

During COP27 the focus has been on implementation as the 1.5˚ C goal cannot be achieved without actual climate action. Topics discussed included how carbon markets can help achieve this goal as well as the importance of protecting our forests. One example in which these topics come together is through Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) emission reduction projects.

What are AFOLU projects?

AFOLU emission reduction projects are projects that, focus on restoring or protecting forests or on supporting the implementation of more sustainable land use methods to provide a powerful way to take climate action. So how can AFOLU projects help in our fight against climate change exactly?

Let’s start with a short recap as to why forests are important in our fight against climate change. Forests around the world absorb 25-30% of the total anthropogenic GHG emissions released in the atmosphere. Forests, through tree growth, take CO2 out of the atmosphere by capturing carbon in the trees’ wood and roots as well as the soil. Furthermore, they provide us with vital resources such as oxygen and food, and influence both local and global temperatures which helps us keep warm in winter while also protecting us from the heat in summer. Nevertheless, according to Global Forest Watch, between 2000 and 2020, the global area occupied by intact forests decreased by 12% (155 million hectares), which corresponds to an area twice the size of Chile..

With more and more people realizing the importance of forests for our livelihood, planting trees has been one of the potential solutions considered to leverage the positive climate effects provided by trees. As a result, we see many initiatives and programs be created to facilitate reforestation, such as the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 that commits to planting at least 3 billion additional trees in the EU by 2030. However, planting trees is just the starting point.

To restore forests, the focus should not purely be on planting trees. Instead, we need to take responsibility for the entire lifetime of the trees as the forest that they ultimately create need to be managed and cared for to ensure it remains healthy. This is where AFOLU emission reduction projects can help.

AFOLU projects focused on forest restoration plan their project activities in line with the lifetime of the trees to ensure the forest receives the care required for its current state. The carbon credits that these projects generate in turn help finance the activities required to maintain the forest’s health. However, they also help finance other benefits that such a project can bring. As mentioned before, forests provide us with vital resources and as such people living in AFOLU project areas often depend on these for their livelihood which makes forest restoration activities more complex then ‘just’ caring for the trees.

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Benefits from AFOLU projects

One of the benefits that the carbon credits derived from AFOLU projects can bring, for example, are therefore social benefits through supporting local communities to remain in their territories and to help them establish a secure and sustainable livelihood through the smart use of natural resources. Furthermore, AFOLU projects help support the preservation or restoration of natural ecosystems which does not only bring social benefits but biodiversity benefits as well. To ensure the projects actually deliver on the benefits they promise, the carbon markets have verification programs such as Verra and Gold Standard in place to provide standardized methodologies and standards for such projects as well as validate their adherence to them.

Through the focus on the tree lifecycle and other factors affecting the success of forest restoration (e.g. involvement of local communities, biodiversity benefits etc.) AFOLU projects can play an important role in protecting our forests that goes further than ‘just’ planting trees. In addition, these projects can also take other forms appart from forest restoration to help in our fight against climate change. Examples of this are projects focused on supporting improved land use or management through changing agricultural practices into more sustainable methods that are less harmful for the land, or through projects focused on managing existing forest using climate change adaptation techniques and designing alternatives for livelihood that allow to curb the deforestation and degradation of our forests.

No matter where we live, forests are crucial parts of our environment, and we need them in our fight against climate change. Action is needed in protecting our forests, and AFOLU projects are one of the ways in which we can take this action to protect them.

Learn more about AFOLU emission reduction projects

As Strive, we commit to the responsibility that these projects entail, and ensure that we generate carbon credits through long-lived projects that include local communities and biodiversity benefits. In our carbon offset projects local communities take part in designing and implementing the project. They bring traditional knowledge which is crucial in building a long-lived project that makes sense in the territory, assuring the sustainable use of natural resources and respect for the local biodiversity. If you are interested in knowing more about this, do not hesitate to fill the form or contact us at hello@strive.earth.