In early December, I met with Cooperativa Ambio, an NGO working in Chiapas, Mexico that uses the proceeds from carbon credit sales to help rural farmers and community groups in preventing forest loss, launching reforestation projects, and supporting sustainable agricultural practices. My goal was to find out from the farmers themselves how they have benefited from participating in these climate change mitigation projects.
An example of the land management practices supported by Cooperativa Ambio: replanted forest on the left, corn crops in the middle and coffee on the right.
Cooperativa Ambio's program, Scolel'te ("the tree that grows" in the Tzeltal language) is the longest running program based on the Plan Vivo Standard. This standard contains guidelines that allow community land use and forestry projects that improve local livelihoods and mitigate climate change to earn and sell carbon credits. Scolel'te works with over 1300 smallholders and 9 community groups to manage, protect and restore 9,049 hectares of land in Chiapas, about four times the size of Victoria, BC. Their project has generated over half a million sales of carbon credits since its inception in 1997.
Yaluma community members gather in a plot of reforested land
Where rainforest meets mountains, highlands and ocean, Chiapas is one of the most ecologically diverse states in Mexico. It is also the most impoverished state, where 50% of the population live in rural communities, without many of the services or access to markets other Mexicans may have. Our first stop was the town of Yaluma, a village of approximately 2500 people, 2 hours from the popular tourist town of San Cristobal de las Casas. Yaluma is home to one of the longest-running reforestation projects in the Scolel'te Project. We met with the community members who originally planted the trees and those that currently take care of the forest, to find out why they chose to participate in Ambio's projects and how they have benefited from the woods.