|TroFaCo is very effective in getting benefits to local villages and accurate documentation to you. That is because we use a unique verification system, instead of certification by outsiders.
There are mainly three reasons we chose to do our own verification :
1) Development of projects and their verification under the various standards is expensive (often more than 200,000 USD per project) and would lead us to have to pay less to farmers and develop only large projects.
2) We work with trees. These are immediately visible. Therefore we can apply our smartphone-based verification, which we frankly also think brings more exciting information than a verification report.
3) Most standards for verification of tree-based offsets only work with a limited number of tree species. That would exclude most of the useful trees which the farmers actually prefer.
That was the short version. Here we expand a bit:
Regarding number 1: By applying our inexpensive, yet highly credible verification we ensure that we can plant relatively small stands of trees and that we can pay farmers 20-30% of the price we ask you. And we offer the best possible verification; You can see the trees by yourself and even touch them, if you travel a bit. The map tells you exactly where they are, and so does the certificate you get with any purchase. Anybody who wants to see the trees is most welcome and let TroFaCo help with logistics, if you wish to visit. If you are a large buyer and want to verify, we suggest sending your auditor or some employees you want to reward. We will provide any tools or information needed for them to verify on the spot.
In case of large projects, which would be needed to cover high project preparation costs (If we used outside verification), it is hard to find available land. There are known cases in which offset projects have been implemented in forest areas or on land where ownership is contested. Even worse: in some cases farmers have been chased away form their farmland. We avoid any danger of that, by going smaller for each planting and planting on land identified by the communities.
Regarding number 2: We provide pictures that are time- and geo-referenced and placed on a map on a website. This means; a) Any client can see pictures of his/her trees with his/her name or company logo on the spot. This in turn also means that it is impossible for us to sell the same trees more than once. Unfortunately this has happened in some cases. We now offer plugin for the website software ‘WordPress’, with the map. So if you run wordpress on your website you can have a copy of the map on your own site.
Also, the local farmers select the spots and we accept only spots, which are devoid of trees before we plant. By the way, we also document this through pre-planting pictures.
Regarding number 3: The largest benefits to the communities come from the trees and from the products people may get from them. At the current level of carbon prices the income for the offsets is secondary, albeit still nice. Were we to restrict the kinds of trees that could be planted, the farmers and communities would have significantly less benefits. And any kind of tree absorbs (sequesters) CO2, so for the climate the kind of trees does not matter.
Will TroFaCo ever apply for verification under a standard? Of course we will!
If a standard emerges that solve the three issues above, or if we start producing very large quantities of offsets that may be ‘bundled’ to fit under an existing standard, then we will join.