Voluntary REDD+ projects are multi-decade initiatives to protect a forest under threat. Projects can be undertaken by communities, NGOs, national or local governments, or companies. REDD+ projects generate verified emissions reductions by becoming validated and verified to the strict requirements of independent, science-based, third-party standards.
In forest landscapes located in developing countries, the realities are stark. Communities tend to have limited access to basic needs, social services, and economic opportunities. Governance structures can be lacking or weak. Existing resource management practices are rarely sustainable. All of these circumstances take place within the context of history – with colonization, war, and other conflicts casting long shadows into the present. In this context, people may choose to exploit the forest through illegal logging and wildlife poaching, or convert the forest for commodity crops, land speculation and subsistence agriculture, because few compelling alternatives are available.
Through REDD+, buyers and financial partners drive resources directly to the ground level by purchasing Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) from REDD+ projects that have been 3rd party verified to high-quality environmental and social standards, and which have verifiably reduced deforestation in accordance with those standards. Voluntary REDD+ projects are multi-decadal initiatives implemented by specialized project developers (NGOs, private companies), governments, and communities in different configurations depending on the country and landscape.
Verra has developed the world’s leading voluntary, rigorous international standards to verify that emissions reductions generated by carbon reduction projects, including from REDD+, are real, measurable, additional and permanent.
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) allows third party-validated projects to generate verified greenhouse gas emission reductions (VERs), by implementing activities that reduce deforestation against a defined baseline. These VERs can be sold and transferred through the voluntary carbon markets, enabling people and companies to sponsor critical emissions reductions around the world. The VCS Program is the world’s largest voluntary GHG program.
The Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Program is the leading framework for assessing projects that simultaneously address climate change, support local communities and smallholders, and conserve biodiversity. High quality REDD+ projects, such as the ones supported by Everland, are typically certified under both VCS and CCB standards.
A project must ensure that its projected emissions reductions are real, measurable, additional and permanent by having its project design validated, with all of its calculations audited and assessed to the requirements of the VCS standards by independent auditors.
In particular, a project must document the threat to a forest, demonstrating what would happen if deforestation were left unchecked and calculating the carbon that would be released as a result of that deforestation. The project then generates emissions reductions by implementing activities that reduce deforestation against this “baseline” scenario.
The project implements its activities aimed at reducing deforestation and collects data on the results of its efforts. These may include training and technical assistance to improve agricultural practices, development of alternative livelihood options such as eco-tourism ventures, or better patrolling and enforcement of an under-funded protected area.
All VCS projects must monitor deforestation using scientifically validated methodologies, both in the project area and in the surrounding “leakage” area – this ensures that deforestation that is displaced to other, less well protected areas as a result of the project’s activities are fully accounted for. CCB projects must also monitor and report on the project’s net impacts on wildlife and communities.
Independent auditors evaluate the project’s monitoring data and visit the field to verify results. Emissions reductions are credited to the project for a monitoring period only after auditors have independently verified the project’s performance for that period. A portion of the verified emissions reductions generated by the project are placed into a VCS buffer pool as a contingency against the possibility of reversals in the future.
All audit reports are publicly available through the Verra web site, ensuring full transparency.