While Plan Vivo certificates are measured and sold in terms of the carbon fixed or emissions avoided, this by no means captures their value. In addition to numerous environmental co-benefits there is also a strong climate justice aspect: poorer countries and communities are not used merely as a tool to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, their disproportionate vulnerability to the effects of climate change is also addressed as part of our projects.
Such vulnerability is exemplified by the experiences of Faustini Kashaija, a smallholder participating in the Emiti Nibwo Bulora project in Tanzania who has seen the climate changing before his eyes. “When I was a boy we knew when the rains were coming, but now it’s hard to know” he says. “When they do arrive, they are hard and last only a short time. And they destroy our crops. Sometimes our beans dry out when no rains come at just the right time just when the plants bloom. Then we know that there will be no harvest that season.”
Participation in Plan Vivo’s agroforestry projects can help counteract these increasing insecurities through restoring, protecting and establishing the ecosystems which can provide a buffer against increasing climatic volatility in what is known as ‘ecosystem-based adaptation’ to climate change (EBA).
Whether in the form of preventing “future dry spells and desertification” in our CommuniTree Carbon Project in Nicaragua, preserving the forest so hunter gatherers can continue to hunt and collect honey in our Yaeda Valley project in Tanzania or increasing the resilience of the water supply through watershed protection in our pipeline Community Forest Ecosystem Services project in Indonesia, EBA is a key factor in Plan Vivo projects.
In Faustini’s case, as well as the carbon finance which will send his son to school, Plan Vivo participation has given him agroforestry training and over 350 trees to plant on his farm, creating a sustainable livelihood which is more robust to climate shocks. “Thanks to the trees, the wind is not as strong here and the crops can cope better” he says. “Before we had to buy extra food for the household, but now, with more food from the farm, we don’t have to.”
Faustini’s example is not an isolated one. Over 9000 smallholders and 250 community groups across the world have plan vivos or sustainable land management plans in place which address their key livelihood priorities while also delivering critical ecosystem services thus creating climate resilient livelihoods and ecosystems.