Microsoft Partners with ARC Project to Restore Panama’s Forests

2,519Views 0Comments Posted 29/05/2024

The ARC Project will restore a unique tropical forest in Panama by planting more than 6 million trees of more than 75 native species.  Rubicon Carbon, Carbon Streaming and technology giant Microsoft signed an agreement to deliver high-quality reforestation carbon credits to the ARC Restaura Azuero Project (ARC Project), which plans to restore part of the forests in the Peninsula of Azuero in Panama.


The ARC Project carried out by Ponterra, a developer and operator of forest restoration projects, will restore a unique tropical forest, planting more than 6 million trees of more than 75 native species in an area degraded by decades of livestock farming.  Microsoft will receive approximately 1.6 million tons of carbon removal credits through a combination of a credit streaming agreement, and a purchase agreement.  The project is expected to emit 3.24 million tonnes of carbon removal credits over the 30-year contract.


The ARC Project represents an unprecedented collaboration between carbon buyers, the project developer and the local community to spearhead an effort to restore forests, nature and livelihoods, developer representatives have said.  "Basically, it is a region in which, due to water scarcity, the driving activity of deforestation is livestock farming.  Taking into account that there is openness to change activities, and taking into account that the region has an impressive natural biodiversity, it is ideal for reforestation projects". 


The project includes leasing land from local landowners, allowing for joint operation and revenue sharing between the developer and landowners, ensuring the latter are compensated for the success of the project.  Local communities will receive more than $70 million in direct and indirect benefits over the first 30 years of the project's life through a combination of lease payments, a portion of carbon credit sales paid to landowners, salaries to local workers and donations to local NGOs for environmental purposes. 


Ponterra expects to employ more than 100 people from the local community in 2024 and grow to 300 people in 2025 to carry out technical biomass and biodiversity measurements, ecological research, seed collection, sapling production, planting, maintenance operations, accounting and reporting, health and safety and more.  Covering an initial area of ​​10,000 hectares with the opportunity to expand to more than 50,000 hectares, the project is one of six projects worldwide under validation with Verra's new VM0047 afforestation, reforestation and revegetation (ARR) methodology.


It should be noted that the Second Biennial Update Report on climate change concluded that Panamanian forests capture more carbon than the total gas emissions that cause the climate crisis generated in Panama.  The trees, seagrasses and mangroves of the country are great sequesters of carbon dioxide, which has placed Panama as the third carbon negative country in the world.  “We are delighted to be working with some of the most respected buyers of nature-based carbon credits in the market to achieve the scale needed to significantly impact the climate and biodiversity crises,” said Ponterra CEO Celia Francis. 


For his part,  Justin Cochrane, CEO of Carbon Streaming, called the agreement a transformative step for the entire reforestation industry.

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