Tree farmers join race for carbon millions

Trees for Schools founder Jadiel Maingi (right) inspects nurseries at a school. A Nakuru organisation is wooing farmers to invest more in trees to earn and enjoy a cleaner environment. File


Do you want to make money growing trees? Would you like to lease out your land for the same?

Pandapata Initiative, a conservation organisation based in Nakuru, is calling on land owners to register as members, start tree-growing and wait to be paid for their efforts.

According to the director Thiga Ndegwa, farmers, communal land owners, companies, schools and colleges with big tracks of land exceeding a thousand acres can partner with the organisation and benefit from carbon credit exchange.

“We have signed an understanding with an investor from the United Kingdom who is willing to invest in this enterprise. However, the investor has insisted on trading in huge volumes of carbon credit, which means trees planted on huge tracts of land, thus we must present numbers that are impressive in order to qualify,” Mr Ndegwa says.

The figures that the investor is quoting are indeed ambitious, with approximately Sh8 billion expected to be paid out yearly if generation, harvesting and monetisation of carbon credit can be done on a million acres of both private and public land locally.

This may be a tall order for the environmental conservationists, and they may have to request the government for access to public lands in order to re-afforest the depleted lands.

“If the government would allow us to re-afforest the public forests, we would reach about half a million acres of land. We would still be short of the ideal one million acres that we need, which would be in line with the United Nations Kyoto Protocol climate change mitigation mechanism,” says Mr Ndegwa.

He, therefore, proposes that private land owners take up the offer by freeing up their land for tree-planting.

“For those with hundreds, or even thousands of acres, I would request that they register with this initiative so that they can benefit when their land is covered in trees,” he says.

Carbon dioxide is believed to be the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to climate change.

Growing trees helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through photosynthesis thus helping reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Companies or governments can buy carbon offsets from those who have planted trees in order to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions or comply with caps on the total amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit.

The Patapanda Initiative envisions employing trainers and incorporating business people who can engage in growing tree nurseries in any part of the country.

“The project needs trees, and even though we have over half a million seedlings in our nurseries, there is need for more nurseries around the country so that those who register to plant trees can be directed to nearest points where they can purchase the seedlings,” says he.

As incentives to plant more trees, farmers get interest-free loans where the trees planted are used as collateral. So far, the trees for loan programme has been successfully implemented in Njoro, Elburgon, Subukia and Rongai areas of Nakuru County.