The World Land Trust, which was one of the first UK charities to develop a carbon sequestration programme, is strongly critical of the government's recently announced kite mark for carbon offset projects. Although the WLT would welcome a system which defines a code of best practise and helps the public identify credible offsetting organisations, they feel DEFRA has made a grave mistake refusing to acknowledge incredibly important voluntary schemes often located overseas in areas of high biodiversity and most likely to be affected by climate change.
According to Roger Wilson, the World Land Trust's consultant on restoration ecology "the Government proposal for a carbon offsetting kite mark is deeply flawed unless it takes account of Voluntary Emission Reduction (VERs). These schemes are often innovative and offer individuals and businesses a way of directly addressing their emissions. VER projects also help tackle environmental and social issues in countries and communities that will suffer most from climate change, but had little or no part in precipitating the problem. Some 20% of global emissions come from deforestation ? this is not even covered by the Kyoto Protocol but can be recognised through voluntary approaches. Preserving and restoring forest is clearly a top priority and is precisely what WLT projects aim to do. Any government code must recognise the importance of Voluntary Emissions Reductions and deforestation if it is to offer a meaningful approach to climate change".
For the past 19 years the World Land Trust has been involved in a wide range of projects with direct relevance to mitigating carbon emissions including funding the purchase and protection of tens of thousands of acres of tropical forest and other threatened habitats. WLT is also involved in restoration projects across several South American countries, and is funding the creation of tree nurseries for future projects.
The World Land Trust's approach to carbon sequestration has received widespread support from leading conservationists, including the Trust's patron Sir David Attenborough. According to John Burton, the Chief Executive of WLT:
"Our website is among the most comprehensive on the web dealing with carbon sequestration and projects related climate change. We pride ourselves on having in place a fully accountable monitoring system and we have received considerable support from a wide group of businesses. We feel the government has not taken into account the importance of tropical rainforests as a carbon sink and are disappointed as this will undermine the credibility of voluntary programmes such as ours without really offering a credible alternative. Furthermore, international standards for voluntary emissions reductions have already been developed. These meet all the concerns and take into account the biodiversity, environmental and social co-benefits produced by carbon sequestration projects. Hillary Benn challenges us to establish a clear voluntary standard. WLT will be glad to work with others to develop them. Meanwhile the government must clearly make room for them in its code."