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Rainforest Alliance Audits Help Improve Sustainability

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Carbon projects underway across the globe are seeking to tackle climate change and improve land-use techniques, management and execution. Programs including the WithOneSeed Program are set up to help communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil quality and nurture local waterways. One area that is benefiting from carbon projects is Baguia in Timor Leste.

Having gained official nationhood less than 15 years ago, Timor-Leste is among the world’s newest countries. Also new to the country is the first ever community-based forest carbon sequestration project, supported by Australia’s Xpand Foundation’s WithOneSeed Program.

The vast majority of farmers in Baguia, Timor Leste are living at a subsistence level, having to plant crops in degraded soils on lands that were once surrounded by forests. Yet now, farms in Baguia are being reforested through the WithOneSeed Program that has achieved Gold Standard certification for carbon sequestration. The Program has a lifespan of 30 years, and this ground-breaking endeavour presents a viable opportunity to induce long-lasting impacts to the participating indigenous communities.

Located in the Pacific Ocean and north of Western Australia, Timor Leste gained independence from Indonesia in 2002, but this was preceded by years of extensive violence and destruction to much of the nation’s infrastructure. Additionally, data showing declining numbers representing the nation’s forests have been well-documented by researchers and the media, and the traditional practice of slash and burn agriculture has shaped the present-day landscape of Timor Leste.

Wildfires and rampant industrial logging have also contributed to the land’s degradation. In Baguia today, the land mainly consists of remnant patches of forests juxtaposed next to agricultural lands and grasslands. Low fruition rates of agriculture means that the majority of the local population supplements their incomes through exploiting what is left of the forest’s resources. Many of the current practices are unsustainable and are leading to severe degradation, due to over-farming, grazing and burning.

Timor

The Rainforest Alliance’s team of carbon auditors within RA-Cert recently travelled to Baguia to conduct the Gold Standard Initial Certification audit of the WithOneSeed’s tree planting (reforestation) project. The audit involved a comprehensive review of the project’s design, conformance to rigorous standards, and projected carbon sequestration levels.

After achieving certification to the Gold Standard, projects must continue along the path towards Performance Certification (verification), which will determine whether a particular project’s activities are generating the levels of carbon sequestration that were originally aimed for in its beginning stages years before.  After attaining Gold Standard certification, verification audits are required at least every five years to confirm the actual amount of emission reductions achieved by projects.

Rainforest Alliance’s Initial Certification audit confirmed the projected levels of carbon sequestration expected to be achieved by the project. Due to the amount of time it takes individual trees to sequester measureable amounts of carbon, Performance Certification (verification) typically does not occur until several years after trees are planted.

The initial stages leading to WithOneSeed’s Gold Standard certification began in 2009, when the program first started to engage with local stakeholders to measure levels of support from within the Baguia community; during following year, local landowners and farmers initiated the first plantings of non-invasive mahogany seedlings. The total eligible planting area of the project is 4,996 hectares, representing existing agricultural and grasslands in Baguia. Through 2015, the project planted a total of 29 hectares, and this amount is expected to increase to 142 ha by 2040.

WithOneSeed’s Gold Standard audit entailed an initial, desk-based review and preparations that familiarised RA-Cert’s auditors with the Timor Leste project and enabled them to devise an audit and sampling plan for the field audit. After arriving in the field, carbon auditors met with project managers, and the local field team, Ho Musan Ida (WithOneSeed in Timorese), to discuss the evaluation and actions necessary to the audit, and then facilitated the audit itself, which included an inspection of the planting sites, the project’s seedling nurseries, and interviews with participating farmers and community members.

The field audit was followed by development of the audit report and associated quality reviews. Gold Standard carbon projects must also adhere to sustainability requirements and prepare a ‘Do No Harm’ assessment and conduct local stakeholder consultations. In the case of WithOneSeed, the local stakeholders are the participating farmers, community members of Baguia and government officials at the sub-district, district and national levels.

The Project Area is located in an area that has a projected increased drought period, high groundwater vulnerability, and a population that has an unsustainable dependence on unprotected water sources. The reforestation activities introduced by WithOneSeed’s project should help to reduce runoff and overflows and retain subsurface water. This improves underground water resources as opposed to negatively affecting it, conserving the water supplies within the hydrological systems.

As a whole, carbon projects seek to combat climate change and improve land-use techniques, management, and execution. Some of the key aims for the endeavour include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, refurbishing soil quality, restoring local waterways back to health, and protection against erosion. This project will likely also lead to employment for local staff, and the project managers also hope it will deliver a range of social benefits, in particular direct payment for individual landholders in return for planting and maintaining trees. Generally, reforestation projects are also beneficial opportunities for smallholder farmers to gain access to carbon markets.

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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