We all know we need to reduce our carbon footprint. Many of us are making an effort to use our cars less and buy locally produced goods. But for the carbon emissions you have been unable to avoid there’s still a way to make a difference – through carbon offsetting.

Have you ever thought what your annual carbon footprint might be? You can calculate it using the Stand for Trees calculator.

Offsetting your emissions by buying Gola Rainforest carbon credits not only ensures that amount of carbon remains locked in the forest, it also finances the protection of the forest from illegal activities, protects the rare and endangered wildlife that rely on the forest, and supports the Gola communities through sustainable livelihoods projects.

Once you know what your carbon footprint is you can offset your annual emissions by purchasing Gola Rainforest carbon credits here:

https://standfortrees.org/en/protect-a-forest/gola-rainforest-project-connecting-forests-people

Why carbon offset?

Like many tropical forests around the world, Gola Rainforest is under threat of deforestation through the conversion of forest into agricultural lands. For rural communities around forests, opportunities for making a living can be limited. Many farmers resort to a slash-and-burn approach, clearing forest to make room for agriculture. This is one of the factors that has led to significant deforestation of forests around the world. It is estimated around 2.3 million hectares of forest was lost in West Africa between 1988-2007 alone, largely driven by agricultural expansion.

Deforestation not only results in the loss of biodiversity and of ecosystem services, such as water regulation, soil protection and nutrient recycling, but the loss of forests also exacerbates climate change. This in turn impacts directly on the local communities and their livelihoods. Protecting forests is good for nature and good for people.

But providing sufficient funds to protect forests and support local people can be a challenge. Many important forest ecosystems are found in some of the poorest countries in the world. In countries like Sierra Leone, which are still rebuilding themselves after years of conflict, there are multiple development needs already competing for government funding. Forest protection simply cannot be a funding priority. An alternative way of financing forest protection is needed.

This is where the Gola REDD+ Project comes in. The sale of certified carbon credits generated by the National Park, fund the activities that actually safeguard the forest.

What is a REDD+ Project?

REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, is a mechanism developed by the UN which creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. REDD+ goes beyond this and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

How does the Gola REDD+ Project work?

After years of consultation with the forest-edge communities and the Gola project partners, the National Park boundaries were mutually agreed and the Gola REDD+ project designed. A not-for-profit company, Gola Rainforest Conservation LG, was set up to manage the project. The company is an equal partnership between the Government of Sierra Leone, the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, the RSPB and (most importantly!) the communities living in the buffer area around the National Park.

The funds Sierra Leone receives from carbon sales are transparently used to finance the protection of the forest and support sustainable livelihood projects including:

  • farmer field schools where training is provided to improve crop yields and quality without farm expansion
  • community-managed loan schemes, which allow communities to buy equipment and seedlings etc
  • gender inclusivity training which is helping provide women with equal opportunities within the community
  • scholarships for secondary schools

The project was Validated and Verified in 2015 and achieved Double Gold certification after demonstrating it had directly benefited biodiversity and local livelihoods, following the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) standard.

But the impacts of the Gola REDD+ project are not just localised. Protecting the forest avoids the emission of 400,000 tonnes of carbon annually, which is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of around 37,000 people in the UK. The project is actively contributing to global climate change mitigation measures by ensuring the trees remain standing.

The fact of the matter is, without the Gola REDD+ project, it is unlikely that the Gola Rainforest National Park would exist. Without the funds it generates to protect the forest, Gola would be fighting a losing battle against other revenue-generating activities competing to use the land, including agriculture, mining and timber forestry. The REDD+ project is giving the forest value to Sierra Leone, providing the wildlife with a safe haven and empowering local communities to be guardians of this precious resource.

How you can contribute?

So check out the Stand for Trees calculator and see how much it would take to offset your annual carbon emissions.

Or think about doing one of the following:

  • offset your carbon footprint next time you go on holiday
  • ask your guests for carbon donations to make your wedding carbon neutral
  • if you are hosting an event, suggest the attendees offset their travel

Let us know your ideas for carbon offsetting.

Even small amounts can make a big difference for Gola Rainforest.

Anonymous