New collaborative approaches drive natural climate solutions

Published 9 February 2021

Natural Capital Partners and the Arbor Day Foundation have collaborated with projects based in Nicaragua and the United States to deliver two of the solutions in the portfolio of nature and technology-based carbon removal projects recently announced by Microsoft. 

The portfolio is part of Microsoft’s commitment to remove 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Natural Capital Partners and the Arbor Day Foundation partner closely with the CommuniTree project in Nicaragua, run by Taking Root, and the GreenTrees Reforestation Project in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley, because of their unique and proven approaches to delivering long-term, sustainable results in their local environments. For natural climate solutions to deliver long-term results and impact, they must be holistically developed to function as part of a broad ecosystem of communities, farmers, water systems and nature. Both projects have been validated to independent carbon standards to measure, report and verify the emission removals delivered and be eligible to issue carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market.

“In this critical decade for climate action, we believe in the power and commitment of business to act and deliver results now through impactful solutions of the highest credibility,” says Saskia Feast, Managing Director of Global Client Solutions at Natural Capital Partners. “By finding and partnering with the most innovative, highest quality, projects and experts around the world we can ensure our solutions deliver the greatest impact: for our climate, for communities, and for a thriving planet.”

The CommuniTree Carbon Program is the largest reforestation initiative in Nicaragua. It helps farming families to grow native tree species and build forest-based enterprises on underused farmland that has been historically deforested, creating sustainable livelihoods for the long term. A certified Plan Vivo project, its model has been used as a best-practice reforestation solution by organizations including the United Nations and the European Union.

“Microsoft values this collaborative approach between organizations with proven expertise in developing high quality natural climate solutions,” says Elizabeth Willmott, Carbon Program Manager at Microsoft Corp.

"Over the last decade our project has demonstrated why community led reforestation is so powerful and has so much potential not only to remove carbon from the atmosphere but to create new sustainable livelihoods for farmers and their families. Part of what makes this approach so innovative and scalable is that, in an industry first, Taking Root's cutting-edge technology platform, FARM-TRACE, will be combining local data with satellite imagery and machine learning algorithms to continuously monitor and report on the forests, delivering unparalleled transparency into the impacts they are creating,” says Elvin Castellon, Chief of Operations in Nicaragua, Taking Root.

Individuals across Nicaragua participating in the tree planting movement are not only building their own sustainable livelihoods – they are also making an important contribution to a global climate solution.
Dan Lambe, president, Arbor Day Foundation

“Taking Root’s CommuniTree project demonstrates the powerful difference that trees can make in our lives and in our society,” says Dan Lambe, president, Arbor Day Foundation. “Individuals across Nicaragua participating in the tree planting movement are not only building their own sustainable livelihoods – they are also making an important contribution to a global climate solution.”

Through a unique partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, the GreenTrees Reforestation Project has been able to accelerate its high impact work in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley, aiming to reforest one million acres in one of the most important wetland ecoregions in North America. The project focuses on restoring degraded agricultural lands back to a highly beneficial, native forest ecosystem by helping landowners establish and grow trees on private lands that have been in continuous agricultural use for decades. 

Reforestation will support this vital watershed across seven states in the Southcentral United States, restore habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife, and support the economic livelihoods of over 550 small to medium sized landowners. GreenTrees is the largest verified reforestation carbon credit program in the world, resulting in over five million metric tons of carbon dioxide sequestration to-date, and was awarded the American Carbon Registry’s Innovation Award in 2018.

Both projects align with the Arbor Day Foundation’s mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. The Foundation’s specialty is accelerating reforestation and agroforestry carbon removal projects that create verified carbon credits and forestry-based social enterprises by funding the tree planting activities and the origination of carbon credits.

Forestry carbon credits offer more than a means to reach corporate sustainability and climate goals – they help protect, manage, and restore forests, the highest-potential nature-based carbon sinks. The Foundation’s vision is to build a climate-positive economy that restores forest ecosystems, empowers people, and revitalises communities – all while stabilising the climate by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than we emit.

The collaboration between Natural Capital Partners and Arbor Day is helping to unlock a model to scale natural climate solutions by connecting committed businesses with local verified impacts created by farmers. As organisations like Microsoft continue to increase their investments in projects such as CommuniTree and GreenTrees, they are enabling projects not just to expand, but to deliver innovations to drive successful natural climate solutions around the world. It is only through collaborative approaches such as this that we will be able to meaningfully tackle climate change.