Prior to the most recent United Nations Climate Change negotiation (conveniently held in Panama City), we hosted a group of REDD negotiators in our Nuevo Paraiso plantation. The REDD negotiators were interested to see how the Equitable Forestry model engages with our partnering landowners.
One of the largest drivers of deforestation in Panama is the contingent of small landowner who deforest to gain land title and practice subsistence agriculture and/or cattle ranching. Negotiators are working to develop REDD policies that provide incentives and a framework for activities such as Planting Empowerment’s mixed native species plantations, which can be an alternative income source for small landowners.
The negotiators participating in the field trip came from Mexico, Norway, France, the European Commission, Denmark, Canada and the US. In addition to the REDD topics, negotiators also treated other issues relevant to the negotiations such as private sector involvement, “permanence” related to forest carbon, food security and social and environmental safeguards.
We took the group past numerous monoculture Teak plantations, which rankled the civil society groups in the negotiations. At issue is whether or not the monoculture Teak plantations should be considered “forest” and therefore able to access the forest carbon market. The negotiators then had the opportunity to make the comparison first hand between the monoculture Teak plantations and our mixed native species plantations.
Planting Empowerment’s Forester Jose Deago lead the group around the Friends and Family plantation, which just completed four years of growth. As we were leaving the plantation, a pair of howler monkeys put on a loud performance, as if to underscore the rich biodiversity you won’t find in a monoculture Teak plantation.