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Micro Carbon Trading

Carbon credit trading combats global warming by putting a cost on polluting the air. Tradable "carbon credits" were created by international treaty (the Kyoto Protocol) that aims to lower global greenhouse gas (GHG) levels, by setting county-specific limits for GHG emissions. Countries (and companies in them) that emit high levels of GHGs must either lower their emissions to the required limits, or they can offset them by buying carbon credits. One source of carbon credits is from conservation ("GHG reduction") projects that mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon.

Carbon credit negotations typically involve large organizations, so money from carbon credit sales rarely supports conservation at the local level- where most environmental destruction occurs. Micro Carbon Trading is an innovative project in which local commmunities can engage in carbon trading to receive money for their conservation efforts. SELVA acts as the mediator through which local groups can market their conservation projects and sell carbon credits on the international market.

Micro carbon trading is based on the carbon market, which is one of the fastest growing and most stable markets internationally. It is one of the most economically-sound models for conservation, as it pays for itself by providing fiscal incentives for people to conserve their environments. Micro carbon trading simultaneously fights global warming, protects ecosystems, and alleviates poverty.

We are developing three models for micro carbon trading, which we plan to expand in the future. Read about our first projects below.

Protecting Forests

Protecting forests reduces release of GHGs that results from deforestation and the burning of forests. The biomass of standing trees translates to carbon credits with value on the international market. Carbon credits give a quantifiable value to forests that local people can market. Money received from carbon credit sales halts deforestation and biodiversity loss by paying people to preserve their forests.

* We are working with the indigenous community of Porvenir, of the Bajo Paraguá Territorio Comunitario de Origen (TCO) in Bolivia, to protect an indigenous titled tropical dry forest that faces imminent logging threats.

Project collaborator:
University of Georgia (UGA) River Basin Center and Bio/Ag Engineering

Pyrolysis is a simple technology where carbon-based waste is combusted at 500-600° C in the absence of oxygen. Products include a form of elemental carbon, called biochar, which is an effective soil amendment that significantly increases plant growth (photosynthesis), thereby removing GHGs from the atmosphere. Other products of pyrolysis include gases that can be burned to produce electricity or refined into useful industrial products. Pyrolysis greatly reduces carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of waste and effectively sequesters carbon (in biochar) for thousands of years. We intend to develop the significant potential pyrolysis has for the sale of carbon credits on the international market. Pyrolysis can be scaled to many uses, from small villages to components of city waste treatment.

* At UGA we plan to collaborate on a pyrolysis unit that will burn large stores of coal to generate electricity for the campus without GHG emissions. Resulting biochar will be used to restore degraded lands in the southeast "poverty belt."

* We plan to collaborate with UGA in bringing a pyrolysis unit to the ecological research station in San Luis, Costa Rica to treat small town waste as part of an initiative to make the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve "carbon neutral."

* In Ecuador we plan to collaborate with local planners in placing a larger unit outside of Quito, to see if it can deal with the waste of a larger city.

Bamboo Initiatives
Project collaborator: Maquipucuna Foundation, Ecuador

Bamboo has been used as a wood substitute for millennia in tropical and sub-tropical countries. Because it is a grass, bamboo grows rapidly and can be harvested repeatedly. It has good hardness and structural strength and can be substituted for construction wood. Bamboo can be grown on degraded lands, and because productivity is high, a small land area can easily provide sufficient material for a poor rural family to build and maintain their house. At present the local and international markets for bamboo as a wood substitute is large and growing. Bamboo has become one of the preferred parquet flooring materials (http://www.plyboo.com/); it is used in clothing (rayon fibers are being made out of bamboo), construction of high end bicycles (http://www.calfeedesign.com/bamboo.htm), furniture, and in construction (http:www.guaduabamboocostarica.com). Large diameter bamboo native to Latin America contributes to GHG reduction because unusually large amounts of carbon are stored in the tuber roots. Bamboo is thus a good candidate for carbon credit sales.

* In Ecuador, the Maquipucuna Foundation has a rural housing bamboo initiative called "Earth-Wise Houses," which we plan to help expand through the sale of carbon credits. Objectives of the program are to mitigate global warming, create local income through the sale of bamboo, provide an alternative to cutting forests, and restore native bamboo habitats deforested in agricultural systems.

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