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Plan Vivo

FAQs

Plan Vivo System and Standard

What is a Plan Vivo project?
Who can use the Plan Vivo Standard?
What is the difference between the Plan Vivo Standard and other ‘carbon standards’?
Who oversees the Plan Vivo Standard?

Plan Vivo Certificates

What are Plan Vivo Certificates?
How are Plan Vivo Certificates quantified?
Are Plan Vivo Certificates ex-ante or ex-post?
What activities are eligible to generate Plan Vivo Certificates?
How much to Plan Vivo Certificates cost?
How do I know the project activities wouldn’t have happened anyway, without the purchase of Plan Vivo Certificates (additionality)?

Permanence and risk management

How is delivery of Plan Vivo Certificates ensured (how do I know the trees won’t be cut down later)?
How do you know trees won’t be cut down in other areas instead of the project area (leakage)?

Project development

How much does it cost to develop a Plan Vivo project?
Who is involved in project development?

Benefits of Plan Vivo projects

How does Plan Vivo improve livelihoods?
How does Plan Vivo conserve and restore ecosystems?

Plan Vivo System and Standard

What is a Plan Vivo project?

A Plan Vivo project is a project working with rural communities to improve their management of natural resources, that the Plan Vivo Foundation has registered, following independent validation against the Plan Vivo Standard.

Who can use the Plan Vivo Standard?

Any organisation working with rural communities can develop a Plan Vivo project.

What is the difference between the Plan Vivo Standard and other ‘carbon standards’?

The Plan Vivo Standard is developed exclusively for use in community-based projects using a “payments for ecosystem services”approach. This means that activities are undertaken directly by smallholders and community groups, who receive staged incentives and support from a ‘project coordinator’. The Plan Vivo Standard is supported by step-by-step guidance and procedures for project development.

Who oversees the Plan Vivo Standard?

The Plan Vivo Foundation oversees and develops the Plan Vivo System and Standard in consultation with projects and other stakeholders. The Foundation annually reviews projects and issues Plan Vivo Certificates based on implemented and monitored activities. The Foundation is a registered Scottish charity, based in Edinburgh.

Plan Vivo Certificates

What are Plan Vivo Certificates?

Plan Vivo Certificates are environmental service certificates, each representing the reduction or avoidance of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide, plus livelihood and ecosystem benefits. Plan Vivo Certificates are generated and sold by Plan Vivo projects to support their activities.

How are Plan Vivo Certificates quantified?

Each project quantifies its ‘carbon impact’ using peer-reviewed and approved technical specifications. Carbon benefits are calculated conservatively against a baseline, over a crediting period appropriate to the activity.

Are Plan Vivo Certificates ex-ante or ex-post?

The Plan Vivo Foundation approves both ex-ante and ex-post methodologies, so Plan Vivo Certificates may be either ex-ante or ex-post depending on the project and activity. For both ex-ante and ex-post methodologies, the same requirements apply in terms of long-term monitoring, carbon buffers, independent validation and verification. Ex-ante crediting, particularly for carbon sequestration (tree-planting) activities, has been shown to be instrumental in getting projects off the ground in poorer countries.

What activities are eligible to generate Plan Vivo Certificates?

Currently the activities that are eligible to generate Plan Vivo Certificates are afforestation and reforestation, agroforestry, avoided deforestation, forest conservation and restoration.

How much do Plan Vivo Certificates cost?

Each Plan Vivo project sets their own prices and negotiates with buyers and other supporters (NB Organisations may purchase Plan Vivo Certificates for different drivers than carbon offsetting). To find out up to date prices for Plan Vivo projects, contact the project coordinator directly, or alternatively contact the Foundation for a list of project prices.

How do I know the project activities would not have happened anyway, without the purchase of Plan Vivo Certificates?

Plan Vivo projects are highly additional; they work with rural communities who would otherwise lack the financial, technical and social capacity to implement long-term land-management plans. Projects must pass an additionality test showing they are not the direct result of legislation, or commercially viable in their own right.

Permanence and risk management

How is delivery of Plan Vivo Certificates ensured (how do I know the trees won’t be cut down later)?

Risk management is built into every stage of the planning and delivery process. Projects are run by established in-country organisations with strong technical and social capacity. Approved project technical specifications contain comprehensive analyses of risk and prescribe risk management and mitigation measures (e.g. fire management, pest control). Participants sign long-term ‘sale agreements’ committing them to their plan vivo (management plan). Sale agreements lay out a monitoring schedule where staged payments are received in return for meeting performance targets (the principle of ‘conditionality’). Each participant has a management objective, e.g. sustainable timber or fuel wood production or non-timber forest products like fruits or honey to ensure they benefit from the activity and the activity becomes embedded in the area i.e. it would not be economically rational for participants to discontinue the activity.

Projects hold risk buffers (reserves) of unsold carbon credits to cover any unexpected carbon losses. Projects are annually reviewed by the Plan Vivo Foundation to ensure systems are being implemented and monitored effectively, and continuous support and advice is provided. Projects undertake third-party verification within five years to ensure continued compliance with the standards, delivery of ecosystem services and strengthen project design. Where verification shows projects are not achieving expected emissions reductions, corrective actions are imposed and cancellations can be made from risk buffers.

How do you know trees will not be cut down in other areas instead of the project area (leakage)?

Plan vivos are designed to ensure carbon losses are not displaced. Producers must show they are not reducing their food production below sustainable levels, so trees are not being substituted but added to existing crops and other uses such as livestock grazing. For avoided deforestation activities, leakage is minimised using an integrated approach to planning. For example, if a main driver of deforestation is extraction for fuel-wood, communities may need to plant small-woodlots. If a driver is illegal charcoal production because alternative livelihood options are limited, the project may mitigate displacement through diversifying income from payments for ecosystem services (PES), and developing new sources of income e.g. beekeeping groups, furniture making.

Project development

How much does it cost to develop a Plan Vivo project?

Project development costs can vary considerable depending on the size, location and complexity of the project, and on the capacity of the project developer and requirement for external support e.g. technical support. Some indicative guidelines of project development costs can be downloaded from the ‘Cost and resource needs’ page.

Who is involved in project development?

The key participants in Plan Vivo project development are the the project coordinator and the community. The project-coordinator is the overall manager of the project and should be a non-governmental organisation with strong links to local groups and, ideally, experience working with the target groups (groups that the project aims to benefit). A project coordinator may work with an external project developer or technical consultant to build their capacity in developing a Plan Vivo project. The level of support required will depend on the administrative, social and technical capacity of the organisation. The Plan Vivo Foundation provides guidance to project coordinators and developers, but does not directly participate in project development. For more information go to the page, ‘Developing a new project‘.

Benefits of Plan Vivo projects

How does Plan Vivo improve livelihoods?

Plan Vivo projects improve and diversify livelihoods, increase social and physical resilience to climate change in the following ways:

  • Building financial capacity: Payments enable farmers to invest in sustainable, economically viable systems that reduce dependency on aid or government support. Activities are designed to with management objectives such as sustainable timber and firewood, non-timber tree products like fruits or honey, or increased productivity through agroforestry. Carbon payments help to diversify income and overcome financial barriers to land-use change.
  • Building human and social capacity: Farmers become more socially resilient through the relationships that are cultivated during a project’s life-span. Through joining groups, sharing skills and knowledge communities can build networks that reduce their vulnerability. Communities may also gain better access to land through projects where project coordinators are able to help communities secure legal land-tenure.
  • Building physical capital: Through projects, communities can gain access to better equipment, seedlings and other means which increase their capacity to sustainably manage their resources.

How does Plan Vivo conserve and restore ecosystems?

Plan Vivo projects build natural capital. Trees make the physical environment more resilient, improving watersheds and biodiversity conservation, protecting crops, preventing soil erosion and increasing productivity (with little input of labour) through nutrient recycling and shade. By introducing agroforestry systems, farmers benefit from more balanced agricultural systems. By increasing the use of systems like agroforestry and woodlots for timber and fuel wood, projects reduce pressure (e.g. from agricultural encroachment and firewood and charcoal extraction) on local forests and conservation areas, helping to protect local biodiversity and watersheds.