Continuing with our How We Are series, today we take a look at our work around curbing climate change. The How We Are series is a chance for you to find out what we are doing in areas such as climate change, forestry, poverty alleviation and business transformation, and the impacts we are achieving along the way.
Rising sea levels. Extreme weather shifts. Severe flooding. Increasingly frequent and intense natural disasters. If we don’t do something about climate change now, all could become a reality. While some climate change is the result of natural processes, the most significant shifts in the Earth’s temperature are caused by human activities — specifically, by the excessive release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere, largely the result of deforestation, agricultural conversion and unsustainable tourism.
What We’re Doing
The Rainforest Alliance is helping communities and businesses reduce deforestation, plant new trees, earn sustainable livelihoods and adapt to changing climatic conditions. Through certification and verification, we provide forest managers, farmers and tourism businesses with the tools to conserve their resources and ensure that they are complying with rigorous environmental, social and economic standards.
On Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, farmers are prohibited from deforesting their land and must maintain healthy soils, protect native ecosystems and decrease their use of energy, water and agrochemicals — thereby reducing GHG emissions and increasing the levels of carbon stored by trees and vegetation on their farms. In February of 2011, together with our partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and a diverse group of collaborators, we unveiled the new Climate Module: Criteria for the Mitigation of and Adaptation to Climate Change. The new criteria reinforce the sustainable practices that are already required of Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and highlight those activities that have demonstrated the greatest climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits. And in forestry, the certification standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) include mandates to reduce the impact of logging. Forests that have been converted to plantations after 1994 are not eligible for FSC certification.
Well-managed tourism businesses can also provide an effective alternative to deforestation. We work with communities to establish or improve these businesses, and train them to manage their carbon footprint. Additionally, we help forest communities implement reforestation projects and independently audit and verify these projects to ensure that they are meeting accepted standards for carbon sequestration.
- We’ve certified over 157 million acres (63.6 million hectares) of forestland around the world according to FSC standards, demonstrating that responsible forestry can be a viable alternative to deforestation. In fact, a study of Guatemala’s Petén region demonstrated that FSC-certified land had rates of deforestation roughly 20 times lower than those of adjacent protected areas.
- In conjunction with our partners in the SAN, we’ve helped over 80,000 farms adopt practices designed to prevent deforestation, reduce climate change and adapt to changing climatic conditions. Together, we’ve also developed standards for sustainable cattle ranching and the responsible production of biofuel crops — both significant drivers of deforestation and climate change.
- We are helping to shape climate change policy at the regional, national and international levels, promoting the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities as well as policies that put a premium on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem conservation.