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3.06 - Are the projects certified?

We have both certified and non-certified projects. Each type has its own set of benefits. By no means do we consider a non-certified project as lower quality. These are just 2 different and valid strategies for planting trees. 

In details:

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.

Why certify

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.

Which certifications

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.

Certification limits

Despite their obvious benefit, CO2 certifications are also very complex and costly processes that need years to setup and demand a lot of extra work for the planter. For this reason, a CO2 certification only make sense for very large-scale, CO2 focused projects. Quite 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 the 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, quite often the selected trees are "wood" trees that will not provide any direct economical benefit to land owners for the next 20-30 years. Usually the strategy for those certified projects consist in paying small land owners 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 land owners as well as a solid guarantee and great accounting for the trees.

When a project is not certified, such schemes usually do not exist which means there must be another reason for land owners 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 land owners to define the species they want, in function of the benefits the species can bring them. It makes sense to then focus on species that can provide incomes to land owners in a relatively short span of time (4-5 years) like fruit trees. Planting trees requires a huge effort from the land owners which they understand as an investment on their land. This approach can reach the same motivation levels and positive results while being much more economical, as no extra funds need to be paid to land owners every year. It also removes the risks linked to a certified projects needing constant financial support during a very long period of time.

Our opinion

At Tree-Nation, to pursue our mission to reforest the world, we believe we should be working with both certified and non-certified projects. 

Non-certified projects usually don’t have the scale, purpose or economical resources to go through a certification 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 a 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. Despite their names, by no means we consider non-certified projects as lower quality. These are just 2 different and valid strategies for planting trees. 

Example of non-certified project 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 are not CO2 certified since this is not their main benefit (trees grow slowly and so capture carbon slowly), yet they can revert some of the damages our landscapes suffered due to industrialization.