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The Sustainable Development Goals and Stand for Trees

Time for Global Action for People and the Planet:  We Agree!

In late September, global leaders convened for the United Nation’s General Assembly in NYC and adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals aimed at solving the world’s social and environmental challenges. The SDGs extend the 8 Millennium Development Goals, launched in 2000 to dramatically reduce poverty and improve public health by 2015. While all 17 goals have a connection to the environment, specifically SDG #13 “Climate Action” and SDG #15 “Life on Land” are particularly relevant to Code REDD and our Stand for Trees platform.


In 2000, when the MDGs were introduced I was a fashion model, and I remember thinking how insane it was that there were two billion hungry people in the world when there were so many women in wealthy countries actually choosing to starve themselves to attain an idealized, hyper-thin figure. Two years later I started my university education which ultimately led me to pursue a Master’s degree in International Development where I learned how intimately connected poverty, the environment, and climate change policy are. I first heard about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+, in between my first and second year of grad school.  Yes, it’s the worst acronym ever, but it was super exciting to me! In many forest communities, nature is an integral part of their physical and spiritual lives, and they are driven to destroy it only by necessity, or they have no choice because logging, ranching, or other extractive activities offer a far greater financial reward.  REDD+ proposes to pay them fairly to monitor and manage their land sustainably in exchange for the climate benefits we all get from healthy forests; it is an inclusive and systematic approach to reducing global poverty that challenges the traditional charity/donor model.  I’ve been an advocate ever since.

I was highly skeptical of the MDGs at first – mostly because they failed to recognize the intimate link between natural resource management and poverty, between habitats and human well-being.  But I was also cautious about any effort to package development into tidy lists.  Development is a messy and complicated business. But the fact is the MDGs turned out to be an incredibly effective marketing and messaging tool. Aggregating challenges into a master list of quantifiably verifiable goals actually narrowed the world’s focus and gave outsiders a clear pathway into the daunting task of ending poverty.

And they worked really, really well. Learn about their successes here. It’s gratifying that the next iteration of development goals integrates environmental justice and conservation. SDGs 13 and 15 specifically compliment the work of Code REDD and Stand for Trees as they both call for immediate financing and implementation of forest conservation for sustainable development and climate change mitigation:

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SDG 13 Climate Action: Implement global leader’s commitment to mobilize jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries. 

Stand for Trees mobilizes the passion and willingness to take action of citizens to financially support local and indigenous communities in developing countries who are committed to keeping forests standing.

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SDG 15 Life on Land:  By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.  Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation.

Code REDD and Stand for Trees promote forest conservation as a means of climate action.  Stand for Trees projects protect over 18,000 square miles of the most spectacular forest landscapes on earth while creating forest monitoring and management jobs that incentivize and fund sustainable land use.

Code REDD and Stand for Trees applaud the efforts of global leaders to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and we look forward to continuing to help achieve them. By supporting projects on the Stand for Trees platform you, too, are a part of the solution.

Join our Dear Global Leaders campaign: For every Stand for Trees certificate you buy you will have the option to send a message to global leaders to make forest conservation a priority during the climate change negotiations in Paris this December.

Let them know they should care – because you do.

Kate Dillon Levin

Posted on: October 8, 2015 by: in: News | Tags: | Leave a Comment
Get To Know the Stand For Trees Projects: Kariba African Wildlife Corridor REDD+ Project – Northern Zimbabwe

If you’ve ever stood in a forest you understand how truly amazing they are – there is just something majestic about a forest that is particularly moving and inspiring. They are our globally shared habitat, and they are a source of creativity and awe.

Stand for Trees projects conserve over 18,000 square miles (imagine 6 New York Citys) of the most spectacular forest land on the planet. They conserve tropical and grassland forests around the globe that regulate our climate, protect hundreds of thousands of species of wildlife from elephants and rhinos to leaf-cutting ants and microscopic organisms, and they are home to tens of thousands of indigenous and local communities.  


It can be challenging to imagine the magnitude and beauty of what our projects do so I’ve initiated a narrative series to tell the stories of our projects from their perspective.  What better way to communicate the significance of supporting the Stand For Trees campaign than to have first-hand testimony from the incredible people on the ground taking action to save the world’s forests?

I decided to interview our project proponents so together we can learn more about what motivates and inspires the people who develop and run these incredible projects and how they are making the world a better and more sustainable place. This week I’ll be highlighting the work of the South Pole Group and their project, Kariba REDD+ in Northern Zimbabwe. I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Dannecker, the Director of Sustainable Supply Chains and Land Use Practice at the South Pole Group. Here is what we discussed:

Natalie: “What about the  Kariba REDD+ project are you most proud of?”

Christian: “Zimbabwe is a Sub-Saharan country with grossly insufficient levels of development aid and ailing private sector engagement. Despite these challenges, the Kariba REDD+ project has managed to become an example on how communities and the private sector can work together, creating real impacts on a large scale within the poorest of African communities. As opposed to 3-year donation cycles that might not always lead to durable change, the “business mindset“ approach adopted by the project has truly focused on long-term impacts.”

Natalie: “Can you describe the community your project works with and how forest conservation has benefitted that community?”

Christian: “We work with more than 300,000 strong rural community people who are amongst the poorest of the world’s population. They are at the very bottom of satisfying their basic needs. Hence only the creation of food security and some excess cash to send their children to school and get basic healthcare will motivate the community to look after their trees as a long-term goal, considering such severe short term challenges.

We now have numerous farmers within this community who have been trained to become champion conservation farmers, raising their productivity by 20 to 50%. This helped them get out of the vicious cycle which consists of renting out their own work to third parties – and missing out on the right moments to prepare their own field.”


Natalie: “What are the top three things you want the world to know about your project?”

Christian: “Our Kariba Project, one of the largest REDD+ forest conservation projects, is aimed at providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for poor communities in Northern Zimbabwe, a region now suffering heavily from deforestation, poverty, and drought.

As the three key take-aways of this project I would highlight the following:

  1. I am convinced that there are few other alternatives out there creating more co-benefits and local impacts beyond carbon than this project.
  1. We should use this project and similar, extensive landscape based REDD+ initiatives as pilots. We should learn from them and scale them up however possible. Such projects offer a way to develop a proactive approach in preparing for an effective and equitable strategy to reduce emissions, driven by local stakeholders.
  1. This project proves that there are viable alternatives to hunting out there – let’s support them!”

Natalie: “What were the key drivers of deforestation and how have you been able to overcome this?”

Christian: “Some of the issues driving deforestation would be smallholder subsistence farming focused on growing enough food to feed and maintain the immediate families. In addition, there is a small level of commercial farming, namely tobacco, which would also contribute to deforestation.

The key to reduce deforestation boiled down to showing these communities that they can:

  1. Produce more food on less land, by applying improved farming practices such as conservation farming. This means preparing the field on time to take advantage of the first rain. It also entails applying organic fertilizer and using materials available on and around the farm.
  1. Produce different foodstuff, honey and tree products (moringa leaf powder, mangos, citrics, etc). This diversification of food produce was enhanced with nutrition gardens, some of them drip-irrigated year round, for food such as onions and cucumbers.”


Natalie: “How did you get into this field and what motivates you to do this work?”

Christian: “Getting to scale in addressing environmental challenges was always a key interest to me, considering the importance yet limitations to interventions based only on spending taxpayers’ money.

The carbon market is the first and for now single, truly global means of being able to scale payments for environmental services [such as how forests provide the ‘service’ of removing carbon dioxide from the air]. These payments can be used to make transformational changes in places where one day, with luck, such payments won’t be needed any longer. I say this because hopefully we will be able to attain sustainable emission levels and find sustainable ways of land use at a landscape level. But we are far from there at the moment.

In the decades to pass before this happens, community-based REDD+ projects offer an approach that have the capacity to produce the most transformational change and the most impactful co-benefits possible within the carbon markets.”

Natalie: “Is there anything else you would like to share that you believe is important to know about your project?”

Christian: “Our own experience with the Kariba REDD+ project has proven that sustainable livelihood opportunities in poorer Sub-Saharan communities can become a reality. Since the Kariba REDD+ launch in 2012, the people of Hurungwe, Nyaminyami, Binga and Mbire have seen more productive alternatives to, for example, hunting. They have had the possibility to convert their time to education in recently renovated school buildings. Our thoughts on finding better financial alternatives for such local communities have also been featured in prominent third party platforms.

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Code REDD and Stand For Trees are proud to support this project. If you want to learn more about the project and are inspired to protect this forest, click here now!

More about the project:

The Kariba African Wildlife Corridor Project serves as a corridor between three existing national parks in Zimbabwe, namely Mana Pools, Matusadona and Chizarira as well as eight further wildlife reserves. By providing a corridor for wildlife, the project has a positive impact on biodiversity both within the project area and in the surrounding region. The project impacts include improved habitat for threatened species like the Black Rhinoceros, of which few individuals are left in the area. Zimbabwe’s socio-economic crisis has taken a great toll on the country’s agricultural sector, its people and its wildlife. Before the project, unsustainable forest clearing & wildlife poaching ran rampant in the region. Your support of this exemplary REDD+ project through Stand For Trees is critical to reducing pressure on the country’s forests and providing sustainable means of livelihood.

Key Facts

  • Generated more than 60 local jobs to date.
  • Through the purchase of Stand For Trees Certificates, basic amenities will be supplemented for targeted schools.
  • Improves habitat for threatened species like the Black Rhinoceros, of which few individuals are left in the area.
  • Projected to prevent nearly 52 million tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere over a 30-year period.

Support this project!

Natalie Prolman

Posted on: October 5, 2015 by: in: Publications, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a Comment
What will it take to inspire you to care about our planet?

Last week I read an article on Nasa’s Global Climate Change website entitled The struggle to reach out and tell the climate story. The article posed an important question that often crosses my mind: how do we move people and make them care about how their behavior is affecting Earth? How do we get people to feel something?  

As a climate and Earth science communicator, the author of the article shared her frustration in achieving this goal. “We get caught up with logical analysis of facts and don’t understand why many people don’t hear our stories. This is incredibly frustrating because, for us, climate change is so important, so dire, such a big deal. We desperately want to reach out and let our stories be told; to find the right way for the meaning to get through.”

John LeGear

Photo Credit: John LeGear

This is an obstacle I think many people in our field struggle with. It’s one thing to get someone to like an article on facebook, to share a video or to virtually stand in solidarity with the cause. But how do we translate that awareness into action and inspire individuals to feel empowered to make a difference? How do we get people to truly care?    

After reading her article, I felt compelled to ask our social media community what they thought and to respond to the following question: “What will it take to inspire and move you to care about the planet?” Here are some highlights of the responses we received:

NK: “I really feel overwhelmed at times when I see what we humans do on a daily basis, to destroy our planet. In the name of luxury, convenience and laziness we continue to pollute and destroy. It’s almost as if people won’t care until it’s too late. We can’t afford to wait that long to change.”

SZ: “I am discouraged at times and feel so tiny in the face of global warming… I on a daily basis make a difference as one and passing this on to my children, but it’s so unsettling to think of trying to make a difference for the world… I am here in WA and the fires are burning our forests my heart aches and I cry for the trees…”

LC: “You can’t get me to be any more inspired than I am to save this beautiful planet from destruction. I’m only one person, but I’ll be the best example I can be to others. Save the planet, save the animals, be responsible for your little corner of the globe.”

UNP: “I truly feel I must do something to help make a change. By posting blogs about others in an urban environment who are doing their bit to help our beautiful planet, I hope to inspire and encourage others to do the same rather than preaching at them. Sometimes, people just need a gentle reminder that their everyday actions have an impact on the environment. And I have found that people are willing to learn and change their actions, which I have found to be incredibly positive. The more people connect with nature, the better they feel.”

PW: “It’s not just a question of ‘finding the right way to get the meaning through’, it’s getting people to work together to deal with it in practical, affordable ways; it requires political and personal input and determination or nothing will get done. It has to be dealt with from the top and the bottom together, and that relies on information, consequence, and personal empowerment. People generally do things because they personally benefit from them; they don’t respond to veiled ‘threats especially when they know not what to do.”

TP: “People somehow need to be made to really believe that our planet can’t continue if we don’t change what we are doing to it. The people I speak to just think nothing can or will destroy planet earth. Not sure how this can be achieved, most people just want to bury their heads in the sand & not think about it.”

AG: “Direct people’s attention toward what you do want to achieve, rather than towards everything that’s wrong, that way they’ll start feeling good about what’s possible and get excited about joining in.”

IT: “Humans seem to have a default ‘but it won’t happen to ME’ response unless they can see it actually happening in an environment they can relate to directly. So perhaps more opportunity to ‘see’ what the devastation means to them – a ‘fast forward’ type vision.”

I really appreciate all of the thoughtful responses that everyone shared with us. It’s important to have an open dialogue about this topic as the movement to mitigate climate change is a collective effort. A theme I noticed among the various responses was that people DO care about this issue, but seem overwhelmed by the enormous task of saving the world. I totally get that. Which is why I believe that the Stand For Trees campaign is an incredibly valuable tool. It’s an innovative and easy solution that puts the power of change into your hands!

If you want to learn more about how the Stand For Trees campaign works and how you can get involved, click here.

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Although tackling climate change can seem like a pretty daunting task, it’s clear that people really want to do their part, big or small. Which is awesome! That’s what this is all about – shared responsibility and collective action. We can save the planet if we all work together and decide that this matters. There is power in numbers and if every individual commits to taking action, in whichever way they can, we have a real shot at reversing the dangerous effects of climate change and ensuring our future. But the time to act is NOW. This is the tipping point.

I understand that sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around the imminent devastation that faces this place we all call home (I have a hard time with that myself), especially when some of us live in regions that are far removed from visible damage. And I agree, that it’s an intimidating responsibility to take action against the destruction of our planet, but I would argue that it is the most important thing any of us can do. This is our only home.

Natalie Prolman


Header Image by: Gerd Altmann

Posted on: August 31, 2015 by: in: News, Publications | Tags: | Leave a Comment
Prince Ea’s Journey as a Climate Activist

“I believe that what comes from the heart reaches the heart.” 

It’s been three months since activist and spoken word artist, Prince Ea, blew us all away with his powerful video “Dear Future Generations: Sorry.”

If you weren’t one of the 70+ million viewers of the viral video, here’s a quick recap:

In celebration of Earth Day 2015 and to launch the Stand For Trees campaign, Prince Ea shared one of the most powerful and inspiring videos to date about mitigating climate change. In the video, he apologizes to future generations for the harm we have caused our planet and he delivers an incredibly profound and poignant message: we don’t have to accept this future.

The purpose of “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” was to raise awareness about the alarming rates of deforestation and to shed light on the reckless destruction of our environment. And most importantly, to inspire citizens of the world to take IMMEDIATE action to stop climate change by protecting threatened forests through the Stand for Trees campaign.

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Since the launch of the video, Prince Ea has been on an incredible climate action filled journey sharing his message to the world. The positive response to “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” has been beyond amazing. Over 70 million views, 37k tons of credits sold AND millions of people have been exposed to this issue who otherwise may have not been. Here are some of the exciting things Prince Ea has been up to since Earth Day:

Sustainable Brands, San Diego 

In June, Prince Ea spoke at the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, California about the art of communicating complex ideas simply. He cited the “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” video as a prime example of how to motivate young people to take action in the fight to stop climate change and discussed how brands can reach their audiences more effectively.

Global Green Awards, Los Angeles  

Later in June, Prince Ea was awarded the Entertainment Industry Environmental Leadership Award at the Global Green Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, California. He was honored for the “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” video and for helping to engage a new generation in the fight against climate change. Other attendees of the event included Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who also received an award) and Stevie Wonder, among many other environmental luminaries.

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Climate Innovation Day, Paris 

At the end of June, Prince Ea participated in EcoAct’s Climate Innovation Day in Paris, France. Which was an inspiring event discussing the pioneering approaches to disrupt the climate status quo. Prince Ea was invited to speak during a session entitled “Words to change the world” and gave testimony as an artist committed to climate action.

Green Sports Alliance, Chicago

Next up, Prince Ea traveled to Chicago, Illinois to speak at the annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. The summit is the world’s largest and most influential gathering for the sports community to unite around sustainability efforts.

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It’s been quite an amazing few months for Prince Ea and the movement to curb the dangerous effects of climate change. We’re so excited to see the journey he has embarked on since the launch of “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” and we can’t wait to see how his words continue to change the world.

Posted on: July 21, 2015 by: in: News, Newsletters | Tags: | Leave a Comment
Tropical forests hidden role in sucking up CO2 revealed

Re-posted from RTCC, January 5th, 2015
Read original article here.

By Alex Kirby

Scientists in the US say the world’s tropical forests may be making a much larger contribution to slowing climate change than many of their colleagues have previously recognised.

A new study − led by the space agency NASA and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences − suggests that the forests are absorbing far more carbon dioxide from human sources than they are given credit for.

It estimates that the forests are absorbing 1.4 billion tonnes of human-derived CO2 − a sizeable slice of the total global absorption of 2.5 billion tonnes.

If the tropical forests are left undisturbed, the trees should be able to go on reducing the rate of global warming by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Conversely, continuing destruction of the forests may prove to have an even more damaging effect on countering the rising rate of CO2 emissions, because if the rate of absorption slows down, the rate of global warming will accelerate.

Lead author David Schimel, a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says: “This is good news, because uptake in northern forests may already be slowing, while tropical forests may continue to take up carbon for many years.”

The question of which type of forest absorbs more carbon “is not just an accounting curiosity”, says one of the paper’s co-authors, Britton Stephens, a scientist at the  National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Earth Observing Laboratory in Boulder, Colarado.

“It has big implications for our understanding of whether global terrestrial ecosystems might continue to offset our carbon dioxide emissions or might begin to exacerbate climate change.”

Forests and other land vegetation currently remove up to 30% of human CO2 emissions from the atmosphere by absorbing the gas during photosynthesis.

The new study is the first to devise a way to make direct comparisons of CO2 uptake estimates from many sources at different scales, including computer models of ecosystem processes, atmospheric models used to deduce the sources of today’s concentrations (called atmospheric inverse models), satellite images, and data from routine and experimental forest plots.

Ecosystem model

The researchers reconciled these analyses and assessed the accuracy of the inverse models based on how well they reproduced independent, airborne and ground-based measurements.

They obtained their new estimate of the tropical carbon absorption from the weighted average of atmospheric, ecosystem model and ground-based data.

“Until our analysis, no one had successfully completed a global reconciliation of information about carbon dioxide effects from the atmospheric, forestry, and modeling communities,” says the report’s co-author, Joshua Fisher, a researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It is incredible that all these different types of independent data sources start to converge on an answer.”

As human-caused emissions add more CO2 to the atmosphere, forests worldwide are using it to grow faster, reducing the amount that stays airborne. This effect is called carbon dioxide fertilisation.

But climate change also decreases the amount of water available in some regions and warms the Earth, causing more frequent droughts and larger wildfires.

For about 25 years, most atmospheric inverse models have been showing that mid-latitude forests in the northern hemisphere absorb more CO2 than tropical forests.

This result was based on the prevailing understanding of global air flows and limited data suggesting that deforestation was causing tropical forests to release more CO2 than they were absorbing.

Measurements of CO2

In the mid-2000s, Britton Stephens used measurements of CO2 made from aircraft to show that many atmospheric inverse models were not correctly representing flows of the gas in the air above ground level.

Models that matched the aircraft measurements better showed more carbon absorption in the tropical forests.

Dr Schimel says the new paper reconciles results at every scale − from the pores of a single leaf, where photosynthesis takes place, to the whole Earth, as air moves carbon dioxide around the globe.

There is still considerable uncertainty about the part played by the tropical forests in moderating the climate.

One study, for example, found that trees in the forests of Borneo absorbed much more CO2 than those in Amazonia. Another found that the southern Amazon forest was drying out far faster than had been projected.

Meanwhile, the rate of deforestation continues to increase in many vulnerable areas.

In June 2014, it was reported that Indonesia’s clearance of its forests was, for the first time, happening faster than in Brazil. Three months later, the Brazilian NGO Imazon said the rate of forest loss in the country’s Amazon region had risen by 290% in the past 12 months.

This article was produced by the Climate News Network


Posted on: January 8, 2015 by: in: News, Publications | Leave a Comment