Empowering Communities Through Nature-based Solutions

Lauren Costello | December 11, 2023

Carbon credits are a key component of restoring nature, but also a powerful tool to empower communities to thrive. The focus on communities is not just a crucial component of successful nature-based solutions (NbS) projects, but it's also a potent response to the broad criticism of the voluntary carbon market that has, at times, overshadowed these pioneering and crucial projects that pave the way for the creation of the credits and environmental impacts that will facilitate 2030 goals. At the Arbor Day Foundation, we're not just committed to addressing the climate crisis and restoring nature; we're most interested in NbS projects that prioritize the livelihoods of the people living amidst these projects, such as Taking Root’s CommuniTree project.

Taking Root's recent article underscores the urgent need for investments in NbS to combat climate change effectively. The research cited shows that NbS can provide up to 37% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to keep global climate goals within reach. To achieve this, investments into NbS need to double by 2025 and triple by 2030. This sense of urgency underscores the significance of our partnership with Taking Root.

One of the reasons NbS has faced challenges is the scrutiny surrounding carbon markets. As the voluntary carbon market experienced rapid growth, transparency and quality became paramount. While we acknowledge that not all NbS projects meet necessary standards, it would be a damaging mistake to discount them entirely. Instead, we focus on identifying high-quality projects, learning from them, and investing in their growth and replication.

coffee_IMG_20210804_115637 copyTaking Root's CommuniTree project is a shining example of a high-quality NbS initiative. By ensuring the program is a good fit for the farmer and improving people's livelihoods where carbon is being sequestered, the CommuniTree project offers viable alternatives to deforestation to incentivize smallholder farmers to plant trees and grow forests. This approach not only ensures the success of forest carbon removal projects but also fosters equitable benefit sharing and long-term value for local communities.



Moreover, Taking Root’s commitment to nature is evident in the careful selection of native tree species, natural regeneration encouragement, and robust science-based carbon forecasting. Regular monitoring and reporting, along with third-party validation, guarantee project legitimacy. Taking Root acknowledges the variability inherent in NbS projects and designs them to account for potential challenges, ensuring that claimed impacts are realized.

The Arbor Day Foundation has been investing in projects like CommuniTree in collaboration with Taking Root since 2020. We have planted over four million trees with Taking Root in the past five years, and the full project has supported the restoration of over 11,000 hectares of land and the engagement of more than 3,000 smallholder farmers.

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We've witnessed firsthand how Taking Root's commitment to both farmers and buyers has resulted in meaningful impacts, from carbon sequestration to ecosystem restoration and improved livelihoods.

Critics may raise questions about NbS, and while constructive scrutiny is vital for improvement, it is crucial that this critique remains constructive, solutions-oriented, and supportive of early nature-based projects. Such an approach is in the best interest of the markets, projects, and the future of our planet. It is especially important to emphasize that these projects significantly improve the livelihoods of the communities living amidst them, who steward these lands. At the Arbor Day Foundation, our partnership with Taking Root aligns seamlessly with our mission to foster a nature-positive future, protect the environment, and uplift the lives of those who depend on these initiatives.

If individuals’ lives are enriched by these projects, then communities will prosper, nature will thrive, and we will all benefit.