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Carbon accounting practices include the systematic process of quantifying and assessing the storage and emissions of carbon by utilising technical and scientific knowledge. This involves translating this understanding into accounting formulas, which incorporate representations of carbon. The methodologies employed encompass a combination of on-the-ground surveys, remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), drones, and various technologies to comprehensively analyse carbon dynamics.

Sungai Telang

Forest Carbon Offset in Bujang Raba

The concept of forest carbon offsets, initially known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), was first introduced on the international policy stage during the Bali COP in 2007. REDD enables developed countries' polluters or investors (corporations, non-governmental organizations, and individuals) to compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through market mechanisms (Gifford, 2020). These markets allow for the trading of carbon credits in and through digital numbers since, unlike many other commodities, they do not require physical delivery.

The border of Sungai Telang community forest

The image was taken next to Sungai Telang village forest. 23 August 2023.

Bujang Raba is one of the first community projects in Indonesia that aims to reduce emissions from deforestation. The project was proposed by KKI Warsi, a non-government organisation established in 27 December 1991, to prevent approximately 630,000 tCO2 emissions by protecting a primary forest spanning 5,336 hectares from 2014 to 2023. The project area covers five villages including Lubuk Beringin, Senamat Ulu, Sungai Mengkuang, Sangi Letung Buat, and Sungai Telang. By preserving this forest habitat, the project was expected to protect a valuable ecosystem home to endangered plants and animals, including the Sumatran Tiger, Malaysian Sun Bear, Tapir, and sacred hornbills.

Panthera

Harimau Sumatera (Panthera tigris sumatrae) captured by camera trap. Image source: Warsi (2020).

Under the project, KKI Warsi and the participating communities followed a monitoring plan to assess the impact of forest loss mitigation activities based on the Plan Vivo standard. This involved monitoring carbon stocks, socio-economic factors, biodiversity, other environmental services, and the drivers of deforestation using remote sensing of the project area, fixed point photography taken by community members, camera traps, and forest patrols. To prevent the loss of important data, the monitoring data collected quarterly and annually were stored both at the village project office and by WARSI.

While the carbon project relied on digital data and monitoring to produce carbon markets, the communities' engagement with the digital forest began with a question about their livelihood. Famila Juniarti, KKI Warsi facilitator for Sungai Telang, described that when Warsi conducted a forest patrol training, they started with a question about what the forest means for the locals and how the use of digital technologies such as Avenza and GPS can help them in monitoring the forest (Interview, 23 Aug 2023).

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Blue Carbon's Carbon and Land Deals in Africa

On 6 December 2023, Blue Carbon, a private company based in Dubai, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Niger State, the largest state in Nigeria, at COP28 in Dubai. The signing ceremony involved Mohammed Umaru Bago, the Governor of Niger State, and Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, Chairman of Blue Carbon, as well as the young member of Dubai’s ruling royal family. This MoU arranges for the planting of one billion trees on 760,000 hectares of land in the state, focusing on carbon sequestration for climate change mitigation, sustainable development, and economic growth (The Guardian, 2023). Blue Carbon has also signed MoU’s for similar deals with the governments of Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (Fern, 2023).

Billion-Trees-750x430

The signing ceremony between Mohammed Umaru Bago, Governor of Niger State, and Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, Chairman of Blue Carbon. Retrieved December 12, 2023 from: https://independent.ng/niger-govt-blue-carbon-sign-mou-to-plant-1-billion-trees/

Amid these agreements, critical remarks arise concerning Blue Carbon's activities in acquiring extensive forested areas in Africa to generate controversial carbon offset credits. The company is finalising deals with at least six African countries, potentially acquiring 25 million hectares of forests, an area larger than the UK (Rainforest Foundation UK, 2023). These undisclosed deals pose serious risks to the lives and livelihoods of millions in these regions, undermining the ability of these countries to use their forests and to meet their climate commitments. Moreover, there are concerns that these credits could be utilised by the UAE and other wealthy, polluting nations to further fossil fuel development, exacerbating the climate crisis (Guardian, 2023).

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