Monitoring for accountability
Indeed, making a difference is literally at our very fingertips nowadays. In fact, we are spoiled for choice with all of the options available! Really, within a few clicks- your home, office or entire organisation may offset its carbon emissions through these powerful and inspiring initiatives. As a feel-good spin-off, you walk away feeling great. Publicising your green efforts has a powerful effect as you proudly (and rightfully-so!) boast on social media about how your co-op is regenerating a forest somewhere in Africa. …
However, wouldn’t you want to know a few years down the line how (for example) your ‘company forest’ is doing? Has it been chopped down for firewood, eroded away by disease or drought, or is it genuinely thriving? Has it even been planted at all? Simply put, does your selected carbon offsetting program show accountability for what they say they have planted on your behalf?
As much as it is our ecological responsibility to partake in these inspiring schemes and programmes- it is also important to thoroughly investigate if the initiative you have selected makes the effort of documenting, sharing and involving you with the difference you have helped to make in a tangible way. Did those fruit or nut trees that you selected to plant ever reach maturity so that they actually could aid towards the food security of the community in which they are homed? Did your allotment in a given reforestation project ever reach the maturity to integrate successfully enough for sufficient habitat creation?
Moreover, one should be mindful of the fact that the more these trees grow and increase in height and trunk diameter; the more carbon they will be offsetting as they mature. Therefore, your carbon offsetting becomes compounded with each year of successful maturity- which is another reason why it is important for these planting schemes to be monitored on a yearly basis- especially for accuracy purposes.
In short, monitoring tree carbon-offsetting programs is a worthy, yet overlooked tool that could save millions worth of donations from being rendered inconsequential. For example- are the species that are being planted have a good historical survival rate? Moreover, does the imagery show evidence of maintenance? Radar data may also be used to monitor the canopy growth, and to catch any deforestation or fires as they may be happening.
In conclusion (and, it must be noted- in general); there seems to be an overall absence of reliable data that remotely verifies tree planting carbon-offsetting projects and their progress thereof. Leading brands are proudly sharing ‘impacts’ that may never be reached. Remote monitoring of these schemes is an often overlooked, yet profoundly powerful tool that may be used in order to strengthen the impact that these projects can make through the informative feedback that can be provided. What is more; sharing the progress reports thereof will elevate passive donors into active, more involved individuals who will be more likely to extend their membership based on the rewarding communication and personal interaction they can receive in turn. Ultimately, the monitoring of carbon offsetting programs is all about building investor confidence.