The Valdivian Coastal Reserve forests store the equivalent of more than 800 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare, one of the largest amounts of carbon per hectare in the world. Without the actions centered on stopping deforestation and the conversion of these indigenous forests, it is estimated that more than 445,000 tons of CO2 would have been liberated into the atmosphere. Therefore, to save these forests means eliminating 93,000 vehicles for passengers transport.
Forest deforestation and degradation is one of the principal causes of climate change, generating about 15 % of all greenhouse gas emissions and becoming a threat for the global biodiversity and for millions of people who depend on the forests for their subsistence. TNC works with the public and private sectors and with local communities to help reduce deforestation and degradation by half.
One of the steps in that direction has been the creation of the first carbon credit as a result of avoiding deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Chile in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, documenting, validating and certifying the protection of 8,000 hectares.
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve is a temperate rain forest located along the southern coast of Chile. Since more than half of the world´s temperate rain forests have disappeared, these 50,251 hectares are one of the largest areas that still remain fairly intact.
It is the reason why TNC acquired the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in 2003, in order to preserve its enormous biological relevancy and to rescue the area from the imminent threats it faced. Such threats included the conversion of that area to eucalyptus plantations, a tree that is not indigenous to the area, and its deforestation due to the construction of a coastal highway.
For two decades now, TNC has been developing projects around the world that restore and protect forests thus avoiding the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. This way, the TNC actions aimed at protecting the indigenous Valdivian Coastal Reserve forest will also prevent carbon emissions and will eventually become the foundations of a forest carbon project that will soon be registered by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
The VCS is widely recognized by project developers, investors and authorities that establish policies such as one of the most rigorous standards for carbon emission compensation projects arising from preventing deforestation avoided in the world.
It is expected that the derivatives of this program will be registered and should be available for delivery in the middle of 2014.
But the benefits for climate are not the only ones. To save the native rain forests in Chile means saving the homes of many mammals, birds and plants that are no present in any other part of the world.
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve is not only important because of its potential to mitigate climate change but also for its immense ecological value. During the last Glacial Age, the coastal rain forests in the south of Chile provided a refuge for plants and fauna from the implacable ice. Similarly, today the Valdivian coastal forests keep protecting some of the highest concentrations of endemic species in Chile making it the perfect habitat for birds and rare and unique animals.
The biological treasures of the Reserve include 400-year old Olivillos and larches that have been on the surface of earth for more than 3,000 years. The fauna in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve includes: the Darwin fox which was thought until not a long time ago not to be one of the inhabitants; one of the largest woodpeckers in the world; a small marsupial that lives in the trees and that is known as “ monito del monte”, considered by scientists a “ living fossil ”; one of the smallest deer in the world called the pudu (see picture); at least 58 bird species and many rare carnivores such as the river otter.
To this we can also add the benefits for the local communities. TNC has worked closely with fishing groups and indigenous communities that live in areas neighboring the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in the preservation of the traditional uses of the land and encouraging local economic development as part of the strategy of general conservation of this protected area.
TNC works with partners to make the Reserve an accessible place and a source of information for visitors, encouraging tourism, a crucial activity for the sustainability of local communities given that it is tourists who create a market for goods produced locally and in a sustainable ways such as honey and herbal teas. The recent acquisitions and the modernization of the Reserve’s infrastructure, including the construction of new roads, signs and picnic areas, has helped to attract more visitors to the Reserve with a general increase of 30% between 2006 and 2009.
This project not only helps to combat climate change and to protect biodiversity but also positively contributes to the sustainable economic activities of the local community.
What are the carbon credits? Learn more about this mechanics and the voluntary market in Chile was the aim of this video. Here The Nature Conservancy presents also the first project in Chile of registered carbon credits from avoided deforestation and degradation in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve of The Nature Conservancy.