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Press Release

For release: July 26, 2011

For more information, please contact Laura Pérez-Arce at +52-441-296-0242 or laura@sierragorda.net

Sierra Gorda Earns VCS, CCB Validation – a Win for Mexican Farmers and Global Climate

After 15 years of hard work and innovation, a conservation project in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve has become the first in the country to receive validation under two emerging global carbon market standards designed to ensure ecological integrity and benefits for communities. Officially dubbed “Carbon Sequestration in Communities of Extreme Poverty in the Sierra Gorda of Mexico,” the project has been validated under both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard – a clear demonstration of the role that carbon projects can play in the restoration of protected areas and the improvement of farmers’ livelihoods.

Launched in 1997 by Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, I.A.P, and now operated by Bosque Sustentable, A.C., it is one of the first conservation projects to look beyond traditional philanthropy to financing methods that earn income by planting trees and absorbing carbon dioxide to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Forest Trends, an international organization focused on ecosystem markets, supported the project´s design and validation through its Katoomba Incubator, while the Rainforest Alliance was the organization that carried out the external validation.

“Validation under these standards demonstrates the integrity of Sierra Gorda’s offsets and the overall value of the efforts to restore ecosystems, preserve biodiversity, alleviate poverty and sequester carbon in the Reserve,” said Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, which was the first donor for carbon offsets under this project. Wirth plans to travel to Sierra Gorda later this year to celebrate the validation.

The project involves the establishment of small reforestations by farmers in the Reserve and its area of influence to help combat climate change while providing benefits to local communities and helping to conserve biodiversity. It is part of a larger effort to restore lands and improve farmers’ livelihoods in one of Mexico’s most exceptional protected areas. The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, is the most ecosystem-diverse protected area in Mexico and ranks second in the country in terms of overall biodiversity.

“These validations are an international recognition of the reforestation work being done by the farmers of the Sierra Gorda,” said Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo, general director of the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda. “It is a very important step forward in our work to provide alternatives for local farmers and strengthen the economy of conservation in the Sierra Gorda.” While this project involves tree-planting, the Sierra Gorda organizations are also pioneering efforts to develop ecosystem markets for other ecological values of the Sierra, which acts as a massive water filter for downstream areas and supports valuable biodiversity.

Bosque Sustentable monitors the reforestations to quantify the amount of carbon dioxide being captured as part of the natural process of tree growth. Bosque Sustentable then offers “carbon offsets” in national and international voluntary carbon markets. Organizations, businesses and individuals who want to contribute to the fight against climate change can calculate the amount of global warming gases that they emit into the atmosphere as a result of their production processes or use of transportation and electricity. After reducing their emissions to the maximum extent possible, they can choose to offset their remaining emissions by making a donation to Bosque Sustentable, which in turn pays small farmers to plant and manage trees to capture a corresponding amount of carbon dioxide.

“This is a major milestone for Sierra Gorda, which has been a pioneer in the voluntary offsets market for many years and now has the independent validation that confirms the solid technical design and carbon accounting behind their reforestation efforts,” said Jacob Olander of Forest Trends.

A unique feature of this project is that it involves large numbers of small reforestations, including reforestations as small as .5 hectare, which are scattered throughout the rugged mountains of the Sierra Gorda. This minimum reforestation size, much smaller than a typical forest carbon project, allows the Sierra Gorda project to involve individual farmers in conditions of poverty in very remote areas. Through 2013, the project is expected to include a total of 289 small reforestations with a total of 305.7 hectares.

“The Bosque Sustentable project represents a forest carbon project of the highest quality,” said Jeff Hayward, director of the Climate Program of the Rainforest Alliance. “It offers significant benefits to both local communities and biodiversity in addition to climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration in the growth of planted trees. This project will serve as a model for the development of future small-scale forest carbon projects in Mexico and internationally.”

The Verified Carbon Standard is the leading standard in the international voluntary carbon market for the quantification of climate change benefits, while the Climate, Community and Biodiversity project standards ensure that carbon projects also produce benefits for local communities and biodiversity.

The first validation of a carbon project in Mexico to these standards is especially significant because Mexico is likely to be the first country encompassed for offsets under any U.S. state or federal system, and because there is rapidly growing interest within Mexico in carbon offsets as part of its own climate commitments and from an increasingly active domestic voluntary market. For more information about the variety of ecosystem services projects being implemented in the Sierra Gorda and about how to use Sierra Gorda carbon offsets, please visit www.sierragorda.net.

Bosque Sustentable, A.C. Oficina Central: Av. La Presa s/n. Jalpan de Serra, Qro. México. Tel. / Fax +52-441-296-0229, 296-0242. info@sierragorda.net. Dirección postal: Carlos Septiém García 46, Col. Cimatario, Querétaro, Qro. México. 76030. Tel. +52-442-212-3267, Fax +52-442-212-4777. www.sierragorda.net

About Us

Eco Sierra Gorda is a non-profit organization established in 2008 and in 2010 Eco Sierra Gorda launches the website project, Carbon Neutral Planet.

Purpose statement: To improve rural livelihoods and ecosystems in collaboration with local civil initiatives that benefit the health of the planet, the economy of small rural communities in high biodiversity areas and create regional resilience in the face of climate change.

Carbon Neutral Planet is an on-line donation platform in the USA and Mexico to reduce poverty and combat climate change by offsetting carbon footprints with reforestations in the Sierra Gorda World Biosphere Reserve.

Eco Sierra Gorda will send you an electronic Certificate for donating carbon units in solidarity with rural communities in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve located in México. The carbon units are externally evaluated. One of our carbon products, Premium Carbon, is validated by the internationally recognized criteria of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).

Calculate your carbon footprint, make a pledge to reduce your carbon emissions and finally, donate to offset the tons of carbon dioxide you produce for a carbon neutral planet.

The carbon offset units are managed and guaranteed by Bosque Sustentable A.C., a professional forestry organization that works with landowners and residents to plant, manage and monitor carbon offset commitments.

Eco Sierra Gorda is under review by the I.R.S. to be designated a 501c3 non-profit corporation shortly.

Special thanks to the following contributors to the photography, Google Maps and translation:

Paul Kenney
Roberto Pedraza (www.sierragordasilvestre.net)
Traductorxs Organizadxs Lingüistas:
Trad. Laura Alegre
Trad. Patricia Pereyra
Trad. Gustavo Pisoni
Trad. Marina Belén Ramírez
Trad. Alejandro Tolaba Arias

Board of Directors

  Laura Pérez-Arce B., President
  Dorothy Yuki
  Sandra Skrei Mock
  Thomas Robert Burke
  Yukiko Meadows
  Laura Spry, Secretary


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