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Meet A Farmer: Musingo Mikhaya

August 14th, 2015

COTAP partner Ecotrust recently launched its Farmer Focus series to highlight the social impacts of its award-winning Trees for Global Benefits (TGB) programme. In this first episode, we meet 70 year old Musingo Mikhaya, a farmer from Bukuso subcounty, in the Manafwa district of Eastern Uganda. Musingo explains how he got started with tree growing and the benefits he has reaped. He shows us around his farm and shares his perspectives on life, culture and family.

Restoring His Local Landscape


Musingo is originally from Bwakoko and moved to the area with his grandfather. Though growing trees has always been a part of his life, he got invovled with TGB after hearing an Ecotrust radio ad about climate change.

The video, which has English subtitles, is in a Bantu language called Lumasaba, which is spoken by tribes on the Mt. Elgon Landscape. Musingo first explains how the area, especially along the roads around Mbale, used to be covered with millions of Mvule trees planted during the rule of Chief Semei Kakungulu in the early part of the 20th century. He notes that most of them have been cut down. He reminisces along with Jonah Butsatsa, the interviewer and Ecotrust’s Communication and Public Relations Officer, about how the many large Mvule trees once covered and shaded the road so that you wouldn’t feel the heat from the sun.

Before TGB came along, Musingo grew eucalyptus, locally known as Kimitoto. Ecotrust sent tree specialists into the district and organized meetings and trainings. He learned how crops don’t coexist well with eucalytpus, and so he started integrating banana and other crop-compatible trees like Kimiruru, Kumikihili (cordia), and Musizi (maesopsis). The trees provide shade which helps prevent heat damage to his coffee crop, and they drop leaves that provide natural fertilizer, saving him money.

How Musingo Uses His TGB Earnings


Musingo has used some of his earnings to pay school fees for the three of his children (of 24 total, from 3 wives) who are currently in school. “It has helped me so much, really. God is Great,” he says. At 70 years old, he also uses his earnings to help cover medical costs, including those from a doctor’s appointment he’s got scheduled right after his interview with Jonah.

Folklore in the Forest


Another intriguing aspect of the interview is Musingo’s deep knowledge of traditional, local beliefs associated with the many different types of trees on his land. For example, if you place the leaf of the Shishangula in the hand of a deceased person, and then lick the leaf, it will undo any curses which have been placed on them. Then there is the Kumurukhuru tree, which is a good remedy for what the English men refer to as mumps… if you gently step on it (presumably on the root, and with a bare foot) and then walk all the way home without looking back.

Musingo’s Gratitude to Ecotrust, and to You


At the 22:15 mark, Musingo expresses his thanks to Ecotrust. It should also be viewed as a thanks to everyone who has offset their carbon emissions via the TGB program:

“We are so grateful. Well first off I would like to thank them. The little we get, has reached us. Let them not get tired… they should keep helping us like this,” he says. “We thank them a lot. Another thing I like so much is that… is when you have someone watching over you, but they also have the courtesy to come and check on you. It gives you strength. I will keep on as long as I am still alive. I will keep on planting these trees. I will not stop.”

Then the video fades out with some sweet Ugandan pop music, replete with autotuned vocals…

Support farmers like Musingo


You can create income for farming families of Ecotrust Uganda’s Trees for Global Benefits project here and learn more about the project at COTAP.org/Uganda.

COTAP’s Spring 2015 Newsletter

June 9th, 2015

Due to the large number of updates, we put a simple summary in the actual email newsletter linking to this post, which contains all the details, photos, and links. Enjoy!

New and Repeat Business Customers


COTAP thanks repeat customers Restorative Formulations and World Wide Web Hosting (aka site5) and welcomes new U.S. customer Monarch Media and new Costa Rican customers Anca Médica, Hotel Giada, and Condominio La Floresta!



If your business is interested in addressing its climate impacts in a very global and meaningful way, get in touch and we’ll set up a time to explore the possibilities!



Transparency Updates


Partner Payments & Credit Retirements. We completed our February/March round of project payments and retirements, which can be seen at COTAP.org/Transparency.

Current Round. Since last time, Cotappers have offset 603 tonnes, we currently owe each project for about 150 tonnes, and we plan to start our next round of payments in mid-to-late Summer.

Annual Reports. The 2014 Uganda and 2013 Mozambique Annual Reports are now approved by the Plan Vivo Foundation and have been posted to our Transparency page. The India project’s 2014 report is under review and the Malawi 2014 report is anticipated to be under review by the end of June.

Dropbox Folder. You can now view and download all projects’ most recent documentation in one place: here. This includes each project’s most recent annual report, Project Design Document (PDD), and Technical Specifications (TS).



New Beneficiary Profile: Sinoliyamu Banda


Click on the picture to view the full profile for Sinoliyamu Banda, a farmer participating in the Clinton Development Initiative’s Trees of Hope project in Malawi.



New & Updated Interactive Data Maps for Uganda & Nicaragua


Ecotrust Uganda recently unveiled an interactive Google map for the Trees for Global Benefits project. To view individual farmer details, click on the menu icon at top left, select a region or “landscape,” and pick a farmer. A bigger version is here, and Taking Root’s updated map for their CommuniTree project in Nicaragua can be seen here



New Project Videos from India’s East Khasi Hills


COTAP partner Community Forestry International has produced several new videos about the Khasi Hills project. The main one, “When the Forest is Home,” is a 24-minute film about India’s first internationally-certified project under the United Nations REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) program. It tells the story of Tambor Lyngdoh, the charismatic project leader who has united ten indigenous Khasi kingdoms into a Federation to protect and restore the remote Khasi Hills forests in the state of Meghalaya.



Partner News & Events


Fall Stakeholder Meeting in Sweden. COTAP will be attending the Plan Vivo Foundation stakeholder event in Sigtuna, Sweden on September 28 & 29. Many project leaders will be coming together in one place for mutual learning about challenges, trends, and best practices around such things as payments for ecosystem services (PES), co-benefits, forest monitoring, and certification of non-carbon ecosystem services.

Plan Vivo Updates. The Plan Vivo Foundation’s April newsletter unveiled their new 38-page brochure about all 12 of their projects, 5 of which are on COTAP. The newsletter also describes PV’s participation in March conferences in Indonesia and Uganda, as well as notes new project applicants from Madagascar, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia.

Ecotrust Uganda’s March Event and June Newsletter. Ecotrust’s April/May Bulletin provides many updates on their burgeoning array of partnerships, workshops, and other activities. They also recently sent out a summary of their March conference in Kampala, attended by 170 constituents and with a theme of “Improving Livelihoods and Restoring Ecosystems.”



“Adventures in Cotapping,” or Sharing Our Challenges & Lessons


COTAP received positive feedback when we shared our decision to pause allocations the Sofala project in our previous newsletter. In order to grow and succeed, COTAP must constantly experiment with promising models to see what works and what doesn’t. Here are two recent experiments where we’re learning a LOT:

Microsoft/COTAP Employee Offset Matching Program. Last Fall, Microsoft teamed up with COTAP to pilot our innovative program to leverage their donation matching program to double the tonnes offset by employees and reduce their effective rate to $4.95 per tonne. Unfortunately, Microsoft failed to make the program visible to employees, so we’re searching for a new partner for this program.

20th Poverty and Environment Partnership (PEP) Meeting. At the request of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), we created a tailored page for “PEP 20” attendees to easily offset their unavoidable air travel CO2 emissions. The theme of the event was “Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Inclusive, Climate Resilient, Green Economies.” In terms of CO2 tonnes offset, the results from this particular event have so far been modest. That said, the lessons and visibility COTAP gained from this effort are exciting and they are laying very important groundwork for future event opportunities.



View COTAP Testimonials and Submit Yours




Cotapper Sightings!


Team COTAP was representin’ on the top of Mt. Whitney on June 1st. If you didn’t know, Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states at 14,505 feet! A Cotapper was also spotted 300 miles north… at the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder in the Sierra foothills on May 30th! Click on the photo for the glorious, full-size version.



Until Next Time…


This is COTAP’s Spring 2015 newsletter. Please take a moment to share it via the links on the left. Our newsletter archive is here. If this was shared with you and you’d like to receive updates from us directly, you can sign up http://eepurl.com/eYsWc. We share updates less than once per month and when there’s big news.

Sincerely,

Tim Whitley
COTAP.org Founder

Ecotrust Uganda’s New Interactive Project Map

May 28th, 2015

Ecotrust’s recently-updated website includes an interactive Google map for the Trees for Global Benefits project. To view individual farmer details, click on the menu icon at top left, select a region or “landscape,” and pick a farmer. A bigger version is here and you can offset your CO2 emissions through this project here.

Meet A Farmer: Sinoliyamu Banda

May 5th, 2015

Sinoliyamu Banda

Community: Sambani, Malawi
Year joined: 2008
Number of trees planted: 900 trees in 27×100-meter segments of boundary plantings
Carbon benefit created by Sinoliyamu: 212 tonnes of CO2
Earnings to date: $660
Total expected earnings: $1,100 (over 10 years, based on successful maintenance of plantings)

Sinoliyamu Banda wanted to have easy access to firewood, poles and herbs. In order to make his dream a reality, he joined Trees of Hope after hearing about the agroforestry project through a friend. Sinoliyamu says, “I did not only manage to have firewood close to my home. I also managed to make some money and buy 32 iron sheets for my house and other structures in my compound. This project has helped me to provide for my family. I am right now paying school fees for my brothers.” The trees Sinoliyamu planted have improved the ecosystem around his home as well. He notes that the air is cooler. “I am planning to plant more trees since I now know how important trees are to humans.”

Create income for farming families of the Clinton Development Initiative’s Trees of Hope project here and learn more about the project at COTAP.org/Malawi.

New Project Videos from India’s East Khasi Hills

March 28th, 2015

COTAP partner Community Forestry International recently released several new videos about the Khasi Hills Community Carbon Project. Here they are!

When the Forest is Home (2015)


This 25-minute film documents the story of India’s first internationally certified community forest project to receive funds from sales of carbon offset credits under the United Nations REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) program. It tells the story of the charismatic former youth leader of the indigenous Khasi who helped unite ten kingdoms into a Federation to protect and restore the forests of the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. This project demonstrates the success of community management and innovation in helping to conserve India’s environment in the Northeast, while improving local livelihoods.



Restoring India’s Cloud Forests (2014)


This 4-minute film highlights the efforts of the indigenous Khasi who are enabling thousands of people to engage with forest protection in north east India. They are also enabling businesses to balance their carbon footprint, work with communities close to the forests, and help protect forest ecosystems.It is a Plan Vivo project that reduces carbon emissions from deforestation, protects forest ecosystems and helps to create income for rural families.



Trekking through History (2015)


This 4-minute film highlights the community restoration of a 16 km segment of the David Scott Trail, an historic horse-cart route constructed by the British in the 19th century to connect the modern states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Bangladesh. The trail is an eco-adventure meandering up and down through forests, across arched stone bridges, and sparkling vistas.