In one sentence
COTAP pays people to plant trees – in a structured, transparent, and accountable way.
A general diagram of how COTAP works (click to enlarge)
A longer explanation
Through the instrument and system of carbon offsets, COTAP enables individuals and organizations to indirectly pay rural farmers for planting and maintaining trees on under-utilized portions of their land which will result in the long-term sequestration of carbon dioxide.
Plantings and tree growth are monitored and verified by third parties. Farmers are paid over time as their plantings are successfully managed according to their project plan. Farmers’ earnings from carbon credits are front-loaded and paid over a period of 7 to 10 years for carbon sequestration which is projected to take place over the course of 25 or more years. In addition to carbon earnings, farmers also benefit from cash crops from their trees, improved food and fuel security, improved soil quality, and reduced soil erosion.
More about carbon offsets
Carbon offsets are an established market-based tool through which individuals and organizations can support projects which counteract the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which they haven’t yet been able to eliminate themselves. When you address your CO2 emissions (from driving, flying, and home energy use) by purchasing carbon offsets, you’re addressing your personal contribution to global warming, also known as your carbon footprint.
Carbon offsets are verified, issued, and tracked in increments of 1 metric tonne (2,205 pounds) of CO2. The average American’s annual CO2 emissions through driving, air travel, and home energy use is 18 tonnes.
Every COTAP project is unique
The above diagram should be viewed as one which applies to most aspects of most COTAP projects. Forest carbon project activity varies considerably in terms of project size, carbon accounting standard, project methodology, stage, location, and the number of people benefiting. For example, COTAP seeks to support early-stage projects which have not yet commenced planting, as well as projects that have many successful planting seasons under their belts.
In all cases, COTAP is fully committed to sharing and explaining and each project’s idiosyncracies, ongoing monitoring of environmental and community performance, and regularly reporting such performance through both third-party audits and COTAP’s own site visits and stakeholder interviews.
Please see our Transparency section for more detailed information about COTAP’s margins, details about our past partner disbursals, how vintages work, and a detailed example of how an actual COTAP offset transaction was allocated, paid for, and retired.