How Landholders Benefit From Nature-based Carbon Crediting Projects

January 15, 2024

Landholders, either owners or those who have tenure over lands, are major players in the carbon market industry. Every nature-based carbon credit starts with hectares of forest or coastal land that can originate carbon reduction or removal projects. These projects are nature-based solutions that can be scaled up by conserving upland terrestrial forests or coastal wetlands. 

Typically, landholders can sell carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market where any institution, business, or individual can purchase credits to offset their emissions. 

If you own or hold tenurial rights to a sizable land and are interested in contributing to sustainable development and achieving net-zero emissions goals, keep reading! This article explores the advantages of selling carbon credits for landholders and highlights key factors one should consider before getting involved in a carbon project.

Benefits of Nature-based Carbon Credit Projects

Aside from the ecological benefits of nature-based carbon credit projects, they also have positive economic and social impacts.

1. Increased revenue for landholders

Carbon credit projects may offer the opportunity to diversify income sources. This financial boost can be particularly advantageous for those with large tracts of land, turning land properties into both ecological and economic assets.

Every ton of sequestered carbon dioxide and equivalent (CO2-eq) through carbon projects is called the carbon credit. In the last three to four years, the demand for carbon credits has increased, especially credits from nature-based projects.

Since the voluntary carbon market is unregulated, the price of carbon credits may vary over a wide range depending on project type and size, vintage, quality, emission reduction methodology, and beyond-carbon value. According to the World Bank, forest-based carbon credits are generally attractive among buyers due to their large co-benefits that are more visible than climate change mitigation.

A UN-REDD Programme report estimates that the average price of REDD+ or forestry and land-use carbon projects was 3.9 USD/tCO2e in 2019 and increased to 4.7 USD/tCO2e in 2021. As companies race to decarbonize, funding for genuine emission reductions may drive the carbon credit price to increase to 20-50 USD/tCO2e by 2030 and will keep rising until 2050.  

Through the sale of carbon credits, landholders can earn a stream of revenue that can be reinvested into properties or other ventures throughout the carbon project. However, it is worth noting that certain procedures have to be followed before a nature-based carbon project can generate tradable carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market.

Several non-profit organizations like Verra and Gold Standard assess and certify the integrity of voluntary offsets against a set of criteria following the industry standard. This is why implementing a carbon credit project needs to be based on local knowledge and best practices as dictated by science. 

Because of the increasing demand for nature-based carbon credits,  both their economic and ecological benefits offer a strategic avenue for landholders to contribute significantly to global climate solutions. This positions landholders as key players in fostering sustainability and biodiversity while addressing the pressing challenges of climate change.

2. Community involvement and job creation

Carbon offsetting projects often extend beyond the realm of individual landholders. These initiatives frequently involve collaborative efforts with local communities, engaging them in technical training such as tree planting, seed banking maintenance, and project monitoring.

Members of the community will also benefit from paid jobs needed during the project like an operations manager, administrative aide, bookkeeper, plantation supervisors, and forest patrollers. There is also an opportunity among the youth to learn through the hands-on use of technology during the geotagging and drone monitoring activities of the project.

These activities develop skills and experience that are in demand in the forestry industry or for commercial timber production. 

3.  Sustainable land management for the community and its future generations

Taking part in carbon offset initiatives motivates landholders to implement sustainable land management techniques. 

For mangrove restoration projects, aqua-silviculture farms become another source of livelihood for the community. Healthy mangroves serve as spawning and nursery sites for various fish and crustacean species and may contribute to improved fish production outside the protected area over a decade.

Similar to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the closure of mangroves protected by a carbon credit project may support fish stocks and fishery stability. Implementing a no-take zone in protected areas allows the settlement of juveniles that eventually spill over adjacent sites as they mature. 

Non-timber forest products like vanilla, fruits, and nuts can also be commercially produced while preserving and protecting the trees. One case is the Mindanao Tree Planting Program for Our Climate and Communities Project or MinTrees Project which developed a long-term sustainable rural program with cacao growers as part of their ARR project. Through carbon credits, forest protection offers sustainable means to gain immediate and long-term environmental and economic benefits.

Types of land for carbon credit projects

For landholders who have at least 1000 hectares of land, originating a carbon credit project is feasible. These are the types of land that can undergo restoration and produce carbon credits. 

1. Tropical upland forests

This extensive grassland area in Camarines Norte can be converted into a planting site for native tree species.

Tropical forests are invaluable carbon sinks that account for 40% of the global terrestrial carbon sink and 55% of global forest aboveground carbon stock. Forests that have undergone major denudation in the past years or have mostly shrubs or grasslands as land cover are considered plantable and therefore can be reforested. 

There is a huge benefit in restoring upland forests. Aside from their role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, tropical forests also have a large array of co-benefits.

Tropical forests are natural barriers to the effects of weather and climate disturbance. They also provide ventilation from intense heat, maintain structural integrity, and reduce the amount of flooding in lowlands due to their high water retention.

These ecosystem functions place tropical forests at the forefront of long-term sustainable solutions for climate change. 

2. Coastal mangrove and seagrass areas

A drone shot of an intertidal area in Capalonga, Camarines Norte that may serve as an expansion site for mangroves.

Mangrove forest restoration is also a key solution for climate change mitigation. Coastal areas can serve as planting sites for a variety of mangrove species when the hydrodynamic conditions of the coast are suitable to sustain mangrove growth. Restoration efforts may focus on the replanting of areas that were previously occupied by mangroves, expanding existing mangrove stands, or converting adjacent land uses, such as fishponds, into mangrove sites.

Mangroves are key species in carbon credit projects as they are potent carbon sinks. In terms of capacity, mangrove ecosystems sequester five times as much organic carbon as tropical upland forests. This stored carbon is also locked away from the atmosphere for as long as 5000 years, proving the permanence of mangrove restoration projects. Southeast Asia hosts the largest and most diverse mangrove forests in the world, but they are also facing the most extensive mangrove loss.

Given their huge carbon sequestration capacity, restoring Southeast Asia’s vast and diverse mangrove forests becomes all the more imperative to fight climate change for the benefit of future generations.

Beyond carbon, a mangrove restoration carbon credit project also provides other ecosystem services. Coasts that are made resilient by mangroves are less prone to the impacts of climate change like rising sea levels, eroding coasts, worsening storm surges, and water quality degradation.

Therefore, landholders may be able to pursue both long-term environmental and economic resilience through a carbon credit project that aims to restore healthy coastal ecosystems.

3. Agricultural and agroforestry lands

Agroforestry lands can be cultivated to host a variety of species, including crops, fruit-bearing, and native trees.

Mixed forest and agricultural lands can also originate carbon credit projects. Integrating trees with crops sustainably serves as a carbon sequestration mechanism while maintaining the agricultural productivity of the land. 

In agroforestry carbon credit projects, fruit-bearing trees are planted with native tree species to maximize land use. This approach enhances crop yield and diversity which offers a variety of income sources for the landholder. Agroforestry projects also provide a range of ecosystem services like improved soil health and water regulation that contribute to the overall health of the environment, which can be beneficial for the communities. These environmental and social benefits make agroforestry projects sustainable.

What to consider before doing a carbon credit project

When considering participation in carbon offsetting projects, careful consideration of several factors must be done. Assess the eligibility of your land, understand project requirements, and seek expert guidance to navigate potential challenges.

If the land is collectively owned through a tenurial instrument, reaching a mutual decision among community members is pivotal for project success. The project should also be aligned with the organization’s land management goals and ecological values. 

The main product of carbon credit projects is one thing: sequestered carbon. As such, since reforestation efforts involve non-consumptive practices, activities like timber harvest during the contract period can decrease carbon sequestration rates and adversely impact the project outcome.

Lastly, developing a carbon credit project requires technical preparations like conducting a feasibility study, carbon modeling, mapping, etc. Therefore, landholders may collaborate with project developers with a team of professional experts who are capable of determining the strengths and weaknesses of a potential carbon credit project site. Through this partnership, a benefit-sharing agreement can be established between the community and the developer, ensuring both parties receive equitable shares from the carbon credit incentives.

Wovoka partners with Philippine landholders

Recently, Wovoka just concluded the feasibility study of its consortium project in Camarines Norte joined by four People's Organizations (POs). These organizations work closely with our carbon development team to develop the blue carbon and upland terrestrial carbon credit project sites.

During our discussions with the POs, a common motivation for participating in carbon crediting projects is the pursuit of improved and sustainable revenue streams for their communities over the long term. Additionally, there is a strong willingness to rehabilitate areas that have undergone extensive deforestation due to years of illegal logging.

However, several challenges have been identified by the POs including natural disasters, illegal tree and mangrove harvesting for charcoal production and timber sales, mining-related waste, and inadequate funding.

Wovoka plays a significant role in addressing some of these challenges and aims to reach agreements with community members by emphasizing the vital importance of non-consumptive forest usage within carbon crediting projects.

Work With Wovoka

We are currently seeking landholders in Southeast Asia, both individuals and community-led groups, who are interested in originating afforestation, restoration, or land-use projects. Our initiatives focus on community-based climate action, aiming to maximize benefits for local communities through engagement, capacity-building, and collaboration.

If you wish to get involved, answer this short questionnaire for a rapid feasibility assessment of your land to generate carbon credits. 

Reach out to Celestine Dalida, Wovoka’s Chief Operations Officer, at for more information.

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