Scolel’te is the world's longest-running ecosystem services project on the Voluntary Carbon Market and traded the world's first voluntary carbon credits. It has served as an international benchmark for other projects and formed the basis for the development of the Plan Vivo system.


Benefits that Scolel'te provides



Start date 1997
Coordinator AMBIO
Activities Afforestation/Reforestation
Improved land management
Participants 1,459 smallholder families
PVCs issued to-date 1,069,475
Mexican National Forest Merit Award



The detail

Scolel’te (“the tree that grows” in Mayan Tzeltal language) is the longest-standing project in the Plan Vivo network, dating back to a pilot programme in 1994. It was officially operational three years later.

It has been running on a commercially self-sufficient basis since 2002 under the leadership of AMBIO, a Mexican environmental non-profit cooperative that coordinates the project and organises field activities in cooperation with various community groups, smallholder farmers and social organisations.

In March 2011, Scolel’te was recognised by Initiativa Mexico Awards. Scolel’te was chosen as a national finalist from hundreds of local initiatives and showcased on national television, as an outstanding local environmental initiative. In 2013, AMBIO also received the Mexican National Forest Merit Award.


The documents




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SDG details

See how the project provides benefits beyond carbon and contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainable Development Goal How the project contributes
  • Agroforestry systems established and promoted aim to provide social, environmental and economic benefits for local communities.
  • The traditional Taungya system practiced by indigenous people and communities in Chiapas involves establishing forest plantations using high value native timber species. Farmers benefit from the extra income provided by annual crops planted between the trees.
  • Coffee agroforestry system aims to buffer coffee price fluctuations for small-scale farmers through diversifying production.
  • Reforestation activities use native commercial timber species, provide communities with timber for local use and a long-term income from the sale of timber.
  • Environmental education and training programmes to build management capacity, raise awareness and promote environmental responsibility.
  • The project partners with in-country universities to facilitate research projects for university students focusing on sustainable forest management, sustainable livestock and sustainable agriculture.
  • Inspires local children to pursue professional qualifications and careers in forestery and land management.
  • Training, strengthening and promoting networks of regional and community technicians involved in community activities aimed at the sustainable management of resources.
  • The project carries out ongoing research into agroforestry systems and tree species best suited to climate change adaptation.
  • Community Land Plans are used to guide a strategy for low-emissions rural development. These plans are formally recognised by environmental institutions and federal authorities in Mexico.
  • Over 800,000 trees planted.
  • Development of forest management and restoration activities in 10 Protected Natural Areas in Mexico.
  • Promotion of community-based forest fire management strategies.
  • Reduces pressure on forests using sustainable land use planning techniques.
  • Provides communities with alternative sources of timber and fuelwood and encourages the use of improved agricultural techniques.