A carbon sequestration example from Guatemala

An example of a sequestration project commissioned by the American company, Applied Energy Service (AES), in partnership with the NGO CARE, demonstrates the negative effects of agroforestry on the inhabitants of western Guatemala.[1] The project was planned to sequester 15 -16 million tons of CO2 in 40 years, but is massively failing to offset carbon at this rate, and has only counterbalanced the equivalent of 270,000 tons of CO2 in 10 years.[2] (The AES company also features in Chapter 4 for its destructive Chan 75 hydroelectric project in Panama.)

The first mistake was that the species of tree planted were inappropriate for the climate and for the already degraded land, so the plantation did not mature as rapidly as anticipated. Other reasons for the project’s failure can be attributed to land use conflicts, disputes over control for scarce forest, and legal changes that criminalised subsistence activities such as fuel wood collection and denied farmers access to the forest.[3] These riled locals enough for them to sabotage the planted trees, and this, along with damage caused by animals, also halts expansion. Because the project is underachieving, more resources are being used on carbon measuring than poverty alleviation in the area[4], yielding absolutely no benefit for the people of Guatemala.

[1] Chris Lang (9 October 2009) ‘How a forestry offset project in Guatemala allowed emissions in the USA to increase’, www.redd-monitor.org/2009/10/09/how-a-forestry-offset-project-in-guatemala-allowed-emissions-in-the-usa-to-increase/ (accessed 11 January 2011).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.