Latest news on the current situation on the ground

In many places, the Amazon region is currently ablaze and the number of forest fires in this year is reported to be higher than the long-term average. Huge areas of Brazil as well as Bolivia and Paraguay are affected. Although hundreds of square kilometers of invaluable native forests have been destroyed in these countries, no First Climate supported forest protection projects have been directly affected by the fires so far.

“We are cooperating with a number of REDD and afforestation projects in Brazil, some of which are located in the states of Mato Grosso, Pará, Rodônia and Amazonas, which are particularly affected by the current fires,” stated Jacob Bourgeois, Senior Consultant at First Climate. Fortunately, neither the immediate project area nor the direct surrounding of the projects have been directly impacted as of now. “There is no immediate threat to our emission reduction projects,” he adds. “However, staff on the ground is taking precautions to prevent fire outbreaks.

Situation in Peru is less tense
The situation in bordering Peru, where First Climate is also involved in a number of forest protection projects, is generally less tense. Fires are yet to cross the Peruvian border. Additionally, Madre de Dios, host province of two of First Climate’s emission protection projects, was lucky enough to receive a few days of rain recently and further rainfall is forecasted for the coming days. “For all we can tell, it seems Madre de Dios is quite safe for now”, says Jacob. However, precautions have been taken and staff on the ground have fire prevention systems ready to help fight possible fires in the vicinity, if required.

Fires and tropical forests?
“In general, the Amazon has never been particularly prone to widespread fire surges as healthy rainforests are usually moist enough to prevent singular fires from spreading”, explains Jacob. Yet, with extensive droughts becoming more frequent in recent years, he sees the rising danger of fires becoming a major cause of deforestation. The risk grows with every tree cut in the forest, he says. “Where the canopy is opened by tree-felling, the surrounding area is left unprotected to heat and humidity, which increases leaf litter and provides more potential fuel for fires.

First Climate will continuously update this post with the latest available information.

Risk Management in REDD+ and afforestation projects:

Three questions to First Climate expert Jacob Bourgeois on the principle of offsetting emissions by protecting forests

Jacob Bourgeois
Senior Consultant

Jacob advises clients with respect to CORSIA compliance, renewable energy strategies, carbon offset methodology and project development, target setting (e.g. SBT), insetting and reporting protocols. Before joining First Climate as a Senior Consultant, Jacob gained experience in impact certification as a Programme Officer for Gold Standard’s Land Use and Forest sector where he managed a portfolio of agriculture and forestry projects and supported technical initiatives on behalf of Gold Standard in the land use space.

The essence of any forestry-based emission reduction project is permanence. Projects must sequester carbon or prevent emissions from deforestation over decades. How does this reflect in the development of these projects?

Jacob: All projects are required to undergo a strict forest-related risk assessment for verification that takes into consideration regional or location-specific risk factors – for example political risks, natural disasters, increasing economic pressure and also the risk of forest loss due to wild fires. All these risks need to be assessed and verified by the auditor and the standard. Not only do the projects have to demonstrate how they plan to cope with the specific risks, they also have to put in place a plan to deal with risks as far as feasible. This might include appropriate fire prevention measures.

 

And how are the identified risks dealt with that are beyond control of the project developer?

Jacob: To cover these risks, all forest protection projects across the globe that are registered under the same standard are required to contribute some of their credits to a non-permanence risk-buffer pool. The volume of credits that each project must contribute can be higher or lower depending on the risk profile of each individual project. Essentially, this is a reserve account of credits that cannot be traded and will only be unlocked in case of reversals. These buffer credits are maintained and retired for only one purpose, which is to compensate for forested land that has already issued credits, but that has suffered a reversal – for example due to a loss of trees in a fire.

 

That is to say a credit always keeps its value in terms of the emission reductions it represents, even if part or all of the project’s forested land was lost?

Jacob: That’s correct. Even if a certain project can’t fulfill the permanence criterion and an already issued credit suffers from a reversal, credits will be drawn from the risk buffer from projects elsewhere to ensure that the buyer’s offset claim remains valid at any point.

What is important for forestry projects when it comes to climate change is not what happens to any one individual tree or hectare of land, but ensuring that the stock of forested land remains the same or increases overall. The risk buffer acts as an insurance mechanism to account for geographically concentrated risks. In most cases, however, only part of a project will be affected by a disaster, so it is usually enough to use a project’s own buffer credits to compensate for lost areas.