Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 8 November 2009





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Analog Forestry to preserve natural habitats

After the wake-up call of climate change sweeping across the world like a tsunami-hit fever, people are now realizing the consequences of their actions. No more cutting down trees or polluting the environment since they can bring deadly natural disasters directly triggered off by our own actions. There might not even be a tomorrow for our children if this pattern continues. Today, developing countries blame the developed countries for emitting carbon into the air at the cost of their development. With the popular Kyoto Protocol, carbon credits look like the way forward for many developing countries. However, with many carbon credit companies mushrooming around, it surely looks like many are taking carbon crediting to their advantage. However, the Carbon Conservation Company invites 'concerned companies and individuals who wish to obtain carbon offsets that are more than mere licenses to pollute' to consider investing in the Company's 'sustainable carbon credits'.

Kanneliya Rainforest

The Carbon Conservation Company (CCC) is a firm set up to offer 'carbon footprint consultancy and an ecologically responsible alternative to the current carbon offset trading' by formally launching its first vintage of voluntary carbon credits.

"Many are into carbon trading nowadays," says CEO of CCC, Subra Eassuwaren. "They see it as a potential money-spinner for the developing world. Sri Lanka is certainly no exception. But at CCC we go a little further." He explained that by trading in 'sustainable carbon credits', it creates opportunities for a special reforestation process called Analog Forestry.

Subra calls it 'an ecologically responsible form of carbon trading'.

The Kyoto Protocol, whose purpose was to help reduce climate change, or 'global warming' has the support of more than 180 countries and it is vital for all countries to sanction it in order to preserve Earth for future generations.

The Carbon Conservation Company does more than just plant trees, they engage in long-term sustainable forest conservation like Analog Forestry. Most carbon-capture projects work very crudely. For example, a piece of land becomes a tree plantation. The trees are the kind used for timber or papermaking. The amount of carbon they capture can be estimated by their weight at maturity, and the number of carbon credits sold is based on this figure. Then the trees are cut down and sold, making yet more money for the plantation owners.

Yet, this doesn't help in Analogue Forestry or biodiversity. According to the famous biologist, conservationist and inventor of Analog Forestry, Dr. Ranil Senanayake, "rather than planting trees to offset your carbon emissions, it's still not enough to create a sustainable ecosystem. Your typical carbon-capture project is a tree plantation, just like a tea plantation. How sustainable is a tea plantation? What is it doing to biodiversity? Ruining it! These are what we call monoculture projects; they're highly damaging to the environment". Dr. Senanayake, who is also involved in the Forest Garden Products Certification Scheme (a popular system for validating forest products) states, "When you cut down all those trees to make paper or dining-tables out of them, you end up returning all that carbon to the atmosphere. That isn't doing much to secure a sustainable future for your children or for the planet.

'That's where Analog Forestry comes in. It preserves natural habitats and biodiversity by making them economically useful to local communities in a sustainable way. And we finance it by carbon trading - you could call it Fair Trade Carbon. It's a complex setup, involving big business in the West, local communities in poor countries and a plenty of ecological and forestry expertise. These factors interact to the benefit of all parties involved - everybody profits."

An Analog Forest is a tree-dominated ecosystem similar in structure and ecological function to a neighbouring, fully-developed natural forest. "Essentially, the analog forester seeks to extend and replicate existing forest coverage over a selected region".

"CCC is part of the Analog Forestry Network", said Dr. Senanayake. 'We've already begun work on our first project at Hiniduma near the Sinharaja and Kanneliya protected zones. We're planning to extend that forest with help from the folk of Hiniduma. They get the benefit of forest produce from the project, as well as lots of other support from us; we get the carbon credits, which we sell to socially responsible companies in the rich world that want to do more than just fulfil to the letter of their Kyoto-related obligations."

CCC's activities have already won praise and endorsement from a number of prominent environmentalists and ecologists including Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohan Munasinghe, vice president of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Prof. Munasinghe has called it 'a brave and imaginative way of leveraging Kyoto to obtain real, sustainable environmental benefits.' A number of other ecologists and environmentalists have also offered their plaudits."Which is all to the good," says Subra. "But our efforts have a hardheaded business side to them as well. To ethically committed companies around the world, we say: If you or your organization is looking to purchase carbon credits, please take a close look at what we have to offer. We're not simply trading 'licenses to pollute'. What we offer is a triply integrated solution to the problems of climate change, habitat loss and rural poverty. So partner with us, and help make a real difference."



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