New land use standards offset global warming with sensitivity

WASHINGTON, DC, June 7, 2004 (ENS): For the first time a set of standards has been drafted for certifying land use projects that reduce global warming while conserving the environment and alleviating poverty at the same time. The new standards are offered by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), which says the "multiple benefit" approach incorporates climate, environmental and social issues in a way that addresses shortfalls in existing climate strategies based on land use.

As governments and corporations work to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, the CCBA intends the new standards to serve as a sustainability guide in the same way as forest stewardship certification or marine stewardship certification do today.

Poor quality land management can hasten climate change, damage ecosystems and harm community livelihoods. An inferior project such a plantation of non-native trees may block migratory routes of key species and illegally evict local people.

"Integrated projects are the most immediate and realistic solutions to combat biodiversity loss, reduce poverty and fight climate change," said John-O Niles, CCBA project manager. "The standards will help the private sector and government funding agencies identify multiple benefit projects that solve three pressing global problems."

Some inferior projects will cause harm, while others may cause tradeoffs between climate change mitigation, sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

These new standards are practical considerations such as an appropriate legal framework and cannot abuse basic human rights. The project will not encroach upon private property, community property or government property, and there are no land tenure issues. No one will be forcibly evicted.

The new standards have the support of CCBA members including BP, Conservation International, GFA Terra Systems, the Hamburg Institute of International Economics, Intel, The Nature Conservancy, Pelangi, and SC Johnson.

"We hope this first draft of the CCB Standards will stimulate a broad set of comments and perspectives from around the world," said Michael Dutschke, staff member with the Hamburg Institute of International Economics. "With a wide range of input, the next draft of the standards will be an improved, collaborative effort that includes the views of stakeholders outside the original members of our Alliance."

Other institutions helping refine the standards and ensure broad input include the World Agroforestry Center (formerly ICRAF) in Kenya, the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensanansa (CATIE) based in Costa Rica, and the Center for International Forestry Research based in Indonesia.

The Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards is aimed at helping companies, conservation organizations, governments and international funding groups to efficiently identify cost-effective carbon emission reduction projects that also have a positive impact on biodiversity and local communities.

The standards are designed for projects that mitigate or adapt to climate change. Climate change land use projects reduce or prevent emissions by methods such as conservation of threatened ecosystems. They may sequester carbon through ecosystem restoration, reforestation, agro-forestry, and afforestation; or they may develop substitutes for fossil fuels such as bioenergy projects.

The standards also can evaluate land management projects outside of the climate change arena. They can be used in developing, developed or emerging economies and can be used for projects with private investment, public investment or a combination.

"The CCBA offers Intel the opportunity to efficiently address several important global issues in one organization," said Terry McManus, Intel Fellow, Intel Corporation.

The scoring system will look at three integrated categories:

  • Climate Change: The climate standards identify a variety of factors to quantify the amount of carbon emissions reduced or absorbed by land based projects including baselines, additionality, leakage, monitoring and the permanence of the climate benefit.
  • Community: The community standards identify land-based carbon projects that involve local communities in the design and operation of land management projects and produce real and verifiable benefits for project communities.
  • Biodiversity: The biodiversity standards identify projects that enhance landscape management by restoring and/or maintaining local plant and animal species populations, their associated genetic variability, and their habitats, restoring and/or maintaining biological connectivity, and conserving or enhancing water resources.

The new standards have been opened up for global peer review and comment. All parties interested in reviewing and commenting on the standards can do so online at:

Community groups, non-profit organizations, companies, academics, government agencies and individuals are encouraged to review this draft and suggest improvements. All types of comments are welcome - critiques, improvements, specific language changes and comments on the overall structure. A review team will consider comments and revise the standards accordingly. The review team includes the original authors and three world class advising institutions.

"With international input from the private sector, conservation community and academia, we can ensure that the CCB standards are more than just an academic exercise, but rather a practical tool that will produce real conservation and community outcomes," said Michael Totten, Conservation International's Senior Director of Climate. "Broad based feedback from all stakeholders will only further strengthen the work that has been done."

The first stage of the public comment period runs from today through July 15. Field-testing and a second round of comments will take place later this year.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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