S1E94: Forest carbon offsets – the view from a project developer

  • 6 Mar 2023

Indonesia's Rimba Raya project developers explain how rigorous the verification and auditing process is.

Synopsis: Every first and third Monday of the month, The Straits Times analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change.

Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and halting deforestation and replanting forests make sense as a strategy to fight climate change – and save nature, too. Investors who do this, want to earn a return for their efforts by selling tradeable “offsets” representing a tonne of CO2 removed, or avoided from being emitted, such as protecting a forest under threat from clearing. 

But a recent investigation by The Guardian concluded that rainforest carbon offsets issued by Verra, the world's main certification body for offsets, were mostly worthless. The conclusion has been widely panned as inaccurate. 

So what are these projects really like on the ground? How difficult are they and how much work goes into creating and running them? 

In this episode, we speak to Todd Lemons and Jim Procanik, who developed the Rimba Raya project in Central Kalimantan in Indonesia more than a decade ago. The project saved a large area of peat swamp forest from being chopped down to grow oil palms.

Lemons and Procanik explain more about Rimba Raya, the forest area and the projects to help save the forest and boost local livelihoods. 

Highlights of conversation (click/tap above):

1:31 What is the Rimba Raya project and why is it important?

4:05 The project’s impact on the forest area

8:29 “The forest is our most efficient mechanism for fighting climate change.”

12:57 There are fears forest carbon projects can be damaged by fire or logging. How to address this?

17:45 “These forests have so many other benefits other than CO2 sequestration (which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide)

Listen to Pt 1 - Forest carbon offsets - scam or climate saviour?: https://str.sg/ikxn

Produced by: David Fogarty (dfogarty@sph.com.sg), Ernest Luis, Hadyu Rahim & Fa'izah Sani

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

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