An Analysis of Forest-Based Offset Production in Oaxaca, Mexico Based on Critiques of the Forest Carbon Market
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Forestry carbon offset projects are potentially viable solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, these projects have been heavily critiqued for perceived failures in creating real, additional, measurable, permanent and independently verifiable carbon credits. The central focus of this study is to test the validity of these critiques against the context of a specific voluntary forest carbon offset project in Oaxaca, Mexico. Ten rural communities are implementing the project with the assistance of two Mexican non-profit organizations, Environmental Services of Oaxaca (SAO) and ProNatura. To study these issues, I conducted case studies in three of the participating communities, with interview data collected from participants, the intermediary non-profit organizations and the carbon credit buyers. Based on my analysis of this data, the program seems to have avoided many of the common pitfalls of forest carbon offset projects. The program seems to have promoted conservation activities that might not have otherwise occurred and has also provided additional economic resources to support forest monitoring programs and improved management techniques. The program also emphasizes education and a utilization of local technical advisors, both of which appear to be fostering a culture of conservation in the communities. I also found that the development of land-use plans seem to play an important role in helping to protect the permanence of forest conservation, as well as preventing leakage by designating conservation areas and preventing the encroachment of other activities into these areas. Based on interviews with program participants, it appears that if the program were to disappear, the community would likely attempt to maintain the forest cover and sequestered carbon through either continued conservation or some type of sustainable harvesting system such as a community forestry enterprise. Despite the lack of international certification, SAO is attempting to ensure high quality credits by carefully selecting the communities that can participate in the program as well as through the use of monitoring plots that measure annual tree growth. In combination with ProNatura’s positive reputation, this seems to be sufficient for the buyers to trust that the project is producing legitimate credits. The program also appears to have a number of social and secondary environmental benefits. The lessons learned from this study have implications for the design other forest carbon offset projects in Mexico or on an international scale.
CitationSandford, Susan (2013). An Analysis of Forest-Based Offset Production in Oaxaca, Mexico Based on Critiques of the Forest Carbon Market. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/6840.
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