Carbon Action Project Launch Booklet | Page 16

sity has also improved with populations of birds, indigenous deer, squirrels and monkeys. Households participate in the project through their forestry cooper- ative by undertaking FMNR and a limited amount of enrichment planting in the target area. There are five cooperatives in the Sodo project with over 1,500 members. Staff and community officers un- dertake regular monitoring of water quality and bird biodiversity as indicators of ecosystem health – and this also helps the communi- ties take ownership for and get excited about the changes due to forest regeneration. World Vision Australia supported the project activities in Sodo until carbon stocks were able to be measured and could be traded. Sales of credits are re-invested in the communities through a loans scheme, allowing cooperative members to take loans for income- generation purposes, e.g. sales of apple seedlings and root stock, bamboo products, ecotourism, grain store construction, tree seed collection, and beekeeping. Some have taken loans for solar pow- ered lanterns to help kids with schoolwork or to access grid elec- tricity, thereby reducing pressure on the forest for fuelwood.’ Isn’t using carbon offsets to go carbon neutral a cop-out? Many in the environmental movement are skeptical about using carbon offsets in the fight against climate change. It is considered a cop out to pay someone else to offset your carbon emissions by planting trees or other carbon absorbing actions when you should be doing the hard work yourself of reducing your carbon emissions. As the blogger Jennifer Nini says: ‘They (those against carbon offsets) argue that carbon offsets do little to curb emissions because it gives people a “licence to pol- lute” and that the focus should be on the prevention or mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, rather than on the band-aid solutions offered by carbon offsets. This is a belief shared by Sharon Beder, Honorary Professor at the Uni- versity of Wollongong, who writes: Carbon offsets are a greenwashing mechanism that enables indi- viduals to buy themselves green credentials without actually changing their consumption habits, and nations to avoid the more Carbon Action Project 13 1 March 2020