Co-op Forest Program
Paddle up the Huayabamba River in northern Peru, and amidst the roar of breathtaking waterfalls and chatter of tropical songbirds, you’ll come across the Co+op Forest. This lush, mountainous landscape is thought to be one of the most bio diverse regions in the world, home to over 160 mammal species, more than 300 bird species and hundreds of butterfly, amphibian, reptile and plant species as well.
It is paradise, but sadly much of this region is recovering from decades of deforestation, while its remaining old growth forest remains at risk for petroleum development. But thanks to intervention by concerned cooperative businesses, this region continues to play a meaningful role in slowing climate change.
Starting April 22nd, River Valley Co-op shoppers will have the opportunity to purchase trees to be planted in the Co-op Forest. The Co-op Forest is a joint venture between NCG and the PUR Projet which offers Co-ops the chance to offset their carbon emissions by planting trees in previously deforested regions of the Peruvian Amazon. It takes roughly three trees to sequester an average 1 ton of CO2e (a measurement that measures all greenhouse gas emissions on a scale that is relative to CO2 emissions). Offsetting carbon emissions is a key step in the pursuit of minimizing the carbon footprint of the River Valley Co-op Community. Trees are being sold at $5 each and, at the end of the month, River Valley Co-op will match all donations up to $2000. This translates to a potential total of nearly 700 trees purchased by River Valley Co-op which will offset around 230 tons of CO2e! Farmers plant the trees among their crops to prevent erosion and help build healthy soil.
Co+op Forest is a carbon offset program which helps to slow climate change by working within our supply chain to offset carbon emissions associated with our purchasing co-op, Nation Co-op Grocers (NCG). To offset these emissions, NCG is growing a sustainable forest in a formerly deforested region of the Peruvian Amazon, in partnership with organic farming cooperatives and Pur Projet.
Each year, we total the number of trees planted and under conservation in our annual report. In 2018, the current totals from PUR Projet are 8,511,239 trees planted and 215,000,000. In 2016, a total of 7,000,000 trees were planted and a total of 214,315,212 trees were under conservation. This program is a great way to extend the Co-op’s sustainability practices in other parts of the world.
2012 - A partnership sprouts
NCG staff travel to Peru to meet with PUR Projet and members of the ACOPAGRO farmer cooperative, which produces organic cacao. While visiting the region, NCG staff join PUR Projet and ACOPAGRO farmers to plant what will become the first Co+op Forest native tree seedlings among the crops.
2013 - Co+op Forest takes root
Inspired by the potential to make a meaningful impact, NCG commits to offsetting carbon emissions associated with annual business travel and becomes PUR Projet’s first U.S. partner to plant trees as part of the Alto Huayabamba reforestation project. NCG calls it Co+op Forest. Native Trees Planted: 1404.
2014 - Co+op Forest expands to protect old-growth trees
In addition to business travel, NCG begins tracking and offsetting emissions associated with gas and electric utilities in its offices. Co+op Forest expands to include the San Martin BioCorridor, an old-growth forest located just up river from the existing project. This conservation project protects a highly biodiverse region which is at-risk for petroleum extraction. Native trees planted: 1,100. Acres of protected forest*: 1,226.
2015 - Co+op Forest branches out
Co+op Forest expands to support a reforestation project in the Alto Shamboyacu community, home to roughly 150 families, many of whom are indigenous Quechua belonging to the Oro Verde cooperative. In addition to producing organic, fair trade chocolate and coffee, the Oro Verde co-op is revitalizing indigenous beekeeping to help pollinate crops, improve biodiversity and provide farmers with additional income. Native trees planted: 2,187. Acres of protected forest*: 1,201.
2016 - Co+op Forest region internationally honored
Due in part to NCG’s continued support, the region in which Co+op Forest resides is honored as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to serve as a model of sustainable communities. Native trees planted: 600. Acres of protected forest*: 2,634.
2017 – Co+op Forest regenerates farmland
Seeking a solution to the over one million acres of degraded farmland produced by years of slash-and-burn deforestation in the region, local farmers join with PUR Projet and funders like NCG to undertake a new community-led project, Finca a la Media. Together, they plant trees to reduce erosion and improve the soil, so farmers don’t have to cut down old growth rainforest for new farmland. Farmers also learn methods such as agroforestry and carbon (or regenerative) farming, which according to Project Drawdown, show promise to help slow global warming. Trees planted: 1158 Acres of protected forest*: 1907
*Acres of old-growth forest protected in the San Martin BioCorridor. Depending on maturity and species of trees present, each acre is home to between roughly 200 to 600 trees.
Reprinted by permission from StrongetTogether.coop. Find articles about your food and where it comes from, recipes and a whole lot more at www.strongertogether.com