Linking Carbon Balanced Business with Forest Restoration and Forest Communities

The Limay Community Carbon Project is a community-based initiative that collaborates with small-scale farming families to reforest their land in exchange for payments for ecosystem services.  CLevel clients can become carbon balanced through this project, managing their carbon emissions  while helping restore forests and create sustainable livelihoods within forest communities.

The Limay project follows an annual cycle that corresponds with the seasonal changes in the region.

We’re pleased to share a summary of last year’s efforts, and introduce you to important steps in our next planting season: recruiting new farming families to participate.

Year Five

In our fifth and biggest planting season, 63 farming families from 10 different communities worked together to plant over 310,000 trees, covering an area the size of 336 soccer fields!

This brings our total in just five years to more than 500,000 trees. These trees will sequester over 112,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to the average annual emissions of 28,000 cars! To date, the project has generated over £250,000 that will go directly to farmers in the form of payments for ecosystem services.

Recruitment – connecting with farmers

In early 2012, the boundary of the Limay project was extended to include the entire municipality of San Juan de Limay, covering an area of 485.8 square kilometers.

With this new project boundary, farmers from many more communities can participate. This means the project staff are in the process of developing valuable relationships with these new project participants.

Building relationships

We hold community meetings with farmers to talk about the project, address any concerns that they may have, and gain their trust.

Participation criteria

In order to participate, farming families must:

  • show that they hold ownership of land  suitable for growing trees.
  • demonstrate that by participating in the project they are not displacing agriculture This helps ensure that trees aren’t cut down elsewhere as a result of reforestation efforts, a process called leakage.
  • develop and follow their own farm management plans (plan vivos) that demonstrate they own sufficient land to meet their agricultural needs.

From there, participants are involved in the rest of the annual process, including building and maintaining nurseries, preparing the land, planting, maintenance and management activities.

Aims for 2013

To plant over 374,000 trees in 2013, which would cover an area the size of 378 soccer fields.

Indigenous Trees

From November to April, workers collect indigenous tree seeds required for the coming year’s nurseries. These seeds are collected from local farmers to ensure trees are well adapted to the region.

Due to the increased scale of the project, there is a new market for members of Limay communities who receive direct benefits from the project by gathering and selling seeds.

A core aim of the project is to use reforestation to help restore ecosystems. Central to this is preservation of biodiversity and restoration of endangered tree species. So, it’s very important that we use native tree species in our reforestation. When identifying which tree species to use, recommendations were taken from both a scientific standpoint and a community perspective.

The species Bombacopsis quinta, or Spiny Cedar, and Swietenia humilis, or Honduran Mahogany, were specifically selected because they have been all but eliminated from the region. They are both on the IUCN Red list as vulnerable species. Increasing the presence of vulnerable tree species helps increase and strengthen the biodiversity of the area.

The other species used in the project are Caesalpinia velutina, Albizia saman and Gliricidia sepium. Each has particular benefits for the surrounding flora and fauna, as well as for the farmers that plant them. This includes helping restore groundwater, fertilizing the soil, and being easy to propagate.

Tree Nurseries

More than 2 million seeds have been collected for 2013. Communities will work together to build over 65 nurseries for these seeds. It will take hundreds of community members throughout the entire municipality to fill all of the required bags with soil.

Many of the seedlings are grown in communal nurseries that are established by participants and are supervised by project staff. For farming families who dedicate a larger area of their property to reforestation, nurseries are built directly on their land to simplify transportation.

The earth for the seedlings is a mixture of sand from the riverbed, on-site soil, and manure. Seedling bags are filled with the earth mixture and placed in trenches approximately 10 centimeters deep. The seeds are sewn between February and April depending on the species.