Felicio Lucas Melo stands in a field with a hoe over his shoulder. On either side of him, there is a row of trees. Trees are common in farmers’ fields in Sofala Province, Mozambique. But it wasn’t always this way. In recent years, farmers have abandoned slash and burn agriculture and taken up tree planting as part of a carbon credit scheme.
Carbon credits are a new commodity on the global market. Individuals or companies who create greenhouse gas emissions purchase carbon credits from initiatives that aim to store carbon – often by planting trees.
Plan Vivo is an international organization that coordinates carbon storage projects. They operate the carbon credit scheme in Sofala Province. Through the initiative, farmers earn money for planting trees, managing forests, and preventing fires. More than 1,000 farmers are now involved.
Farmers in participating communities live near the boundary of a national park. The park was dotted with mashambas – land that had been slashed and burned for agriculture, then deserted. These areas are now vibrant with plant life. They have been planted with indigenous trees. Most are fruit trees or trees that attract bees.
Local farmers receive money for replanting the forest. They have also been trained to prevent forest fires. Mr. Melo and others also earn money by planting trees on their own farmland.
The carbon credit project is scheduled to last for seven years. But the benefits to farmers will continue. Trees planted on farmland will produce crops such as cashews and fruit. They will also help prevent soil erosion.
Some farmers have also taken up a task that will allow them to profit from the forest for years to come. They have begun beekeeping.