Carbon Offsetting vs. Ecosystem Restoration


MAY, 2019

By Hanna Vinckers

Tree planting projects and initiatives are synonymous with carbon offsetting. So why do we prefer to look towards ecosystem restoration instead?

On an individual level, carbon offsetting offsets the impact you make in your daily life. This usually means offsetting the impact of your travel choices.

On a corporate level, carbon offsetting is often a legislative requirement. Many companies buy carbon credits to offset the impact of their business.

Since early 2006, carbon offsetting has become a popular way to give back to the environment. There are benefits, but often this simplified view can prevent the search for real solutions.

The BENEFITS of carbon offsetting are:
Benefits beyond carbon sequestration
Many of these projects can impact the local community through skills training and job creation.
It is a very simple process
It requires little to no action from the individual and is as easy as purchasing a tree or carbon credit online.
The CHALLENGES of carbon offsetting are:
Offsetting can distract from looking for real solutions
The carbon offsetting process is very easy. Companies can buy more carbon credits instead of reducing the impact of their operations.
Offsetting projects are located abroad
Companies often invest in offsetting projects abroad. Even though the impact of the emissions is in the direct surroundings of the company. The sequestration’s benefit is thus far removed from the companies’ operations. 
There is a lack of transparency
Most of the time you can’t track your donations. It can be very challenging to verify the impact of your donation.
There are many challenges to carbon offsetting. This is why we prefer to look towards ecosystem restoration, instead.
So what is ecosystem restoration?
Ecosystem Restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed (Definition by the Society for Ecological Restoration)
On the 1st of March this year, the UN General Assembly declared 2021 – 2030 the decade of Ecosystem Restoration. This decade is a global call to action. Ecosystems that are vital in providing food and agriculture, are declining rapidly.
The good news is, it is not too late to restore these ecosystems and fight climate change!
Although we don’t carbon offset, we still plant trees!
To date, Greenpop has planted over 100 000 trees. These trees are certainly sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Yet, we have decided not to be an official carbon offsetter.
We still welcome the support of tree planting as a means of carbon “compensation.”
This allows people to acknowledge that trees have huge potential for climate mitigation. And also shows that trees do far more than sequester carbon.
Planting trees promotes biodiversity, provides homes for animals, recharges groundwater, prevents erosion and much more.
So join us, and help expand forests and restore ecosystems across Southern Africa!

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