Some of our projects come with a third-party certification and others do not.
Each project type has its own set of benefits. Despite their names, by no means do we consider projects without a third-party certification as lower quality. These are just two different and valid strategies for planting trees.
Tree-Nation combines its own set of CO2 measurement tools complemented with third-party verification and certification standards to meet the highest CO2 offset requirements. This FAQ focuses on certifications.
Third-party CO2 and forest management certifications add a second layer of guarantee, external to Tree-Nation, for maximum transparency. They create standards that help reforestation projects receive financial support from large-scale partners.
We are very proud to work with VCS, Gold Standard, and Plan Vivo.
These are the best in class and most renowned certification standards that exist in our field.
Despite their obvious benefit, CO2 certifications are also very complex and costly processes that need years to set up and demand a lot of extra work for the planter. For this reason, a CO2 certification only makes sense for very large-scale, CO2-focused projects. Often, it’s simply not the focus of a project: trees have many benefits other than carbon sequestration, as a source of nutrition, medicine, or improving soil productivity and fighting desertification and deforestation. While certifications go beyond carbon, they can sometimes be industry-oriented and not always focused on native tree species.
A different strategy
In a CO2-certified project, often the selected trees are "wood" trees that will not provide any direct economic benefit to landowners for the next 20-30 years. Usually, the strategy for those certified projects consists in paying small landowners every year, a small sum for each tree that is still alive. Those payments can span up to 20 to 30 years, providing an economic stimulus for the landowners and a solid guarantee, and great accounting for the trees.
When a project does not have a third-party certification, such schemes rarely exist, which means there must be another reason for landowners to have an interest in protecting their trees. In contrast, here, the economical benefit should be harvested directly from the trees. This goes through an initial work with the landowners to define the species they want, in the function of the benefits the species can bring them. It makes sense to then focus on species that can provide income to landowners in a relatively brief period of time (4-5 years) like fruit trees. Planting trees requires a tremendous effort from the landowners, which they understand as an investment in their land. This approach can reach the same motivation levels and positive results as certified projects while being much more economical, as no extra funds need to be paid to landowners every year. It also removes the risks linked to certified projects requiring constant financial support for a very long time.
At Tree-Nation, to pursue our mission to reforest the world, we believe we should work with both types of projects.
Projects without third-party certifications rarely have the scale, purpose, or economic resources to undergo a credential process. Those projects represent the vast majority of the reforestation sector and we believe a lot of small-scale projects bring many benefits in terms of adaptability, biodiversity range, and economical reach for local populations. Therefore, those projects are well worthy of our support. By helping those projects in their early stage, we also help them reach the scale to, eventually, seek certification at a later stage of development.
To summarize, we recognize the benefits and limitations of each system and consider they are also appealing to different audiences. Having both types of projects allows us to have a larger impact and better pursue our mission.
Examples of projects without third-party certification benefits:
- A project fighting desertification will not be efficient at offsetting CO2 but will excel at improving food security and land restoration.
- A small-scale project will be well suited to increase biodiversity, increase tree cover or protect endangered species while providing solutions adapted and tuned to a specific area and population.
- Most European projects usually don't have third-party certification since this is not their major benefit (trees grow slowly in Europe and therefore capture carbon slowly), yet they can revert some damages our landscapes suffered because of industrialization.