1. Who you are

Welcome to Restore Better. First, we need to know a bit about you and your project. Promoting high-integrity projects can help different stakeholders meet climate targets. With this tool, companies can make better-informed decisions around investing in tree growing schemes, and project developers can use the guidelines to improve tree growing solutions, encouraging sponsorship and increasing environmental benefits.

Q. Are you a representative of a business or leading on project development for a tree growing scheme?

a.

Corporate

b.

Project Developer

c.

Personal

2. Credible emission reduction claims

Nature-based solutions can provide up to one-third of the emissions reduction goals set by the Paris Agreement. Restoring degraded ecosystems and protecting forest cover is a major part of this solution.

Q. Are you interested in assessing a project’s ability to provide credible carbon emission reductions with the aim of selling carbon credits or making net-zero claims?

a.

Yes

b.

No

3. Species selection and planting methods

Native species are more suitable for local conditions than introduced species. High-quality project documentation should detail the species type and amount that are to be planted. If possible, this should be supported with on-the-ground confirmation to ensure plantings are implemented as planned, with regular progress monitoring and reporting.

Q. Is the project using appropriate restoration and planting methods?

a.

No evidence that native species are used. The project only uses monoculture planting and introduced species. No consideration is given to the planting season when planting trees.

b.

The project prioritises the use of native species. A few non-native species may be used as catalysts for native regeneration or for agroforestry purposes. Consideration may not be given to seed sourcing, planting season, or restoring natural habitat. If the project has a monoculture plantation proponent, the project designates an area of natural regeneration and considers the use of a buffer zone.

c.

A range of native species is planted to support biodiversity development and ecological resilience. Consideration is given to the planting season of each plant, and this is respected in practice. Nursery plants or seed stock are sourced from within their native range. Assisted natural regeneration or active restoration may be included, as one of the most cost-effective methods of restoring natural forests. Any use of non-native species has clear objectives and rationale behind it and is only done as a small proportion using non-invasive species.

4. Location

A thorough assessment of the tree planting location, which often includes topograph assessments, on-the-ground verification and engagement with local communities, is a key mark of successful tree growing projects.

Q. Is the tree growing project occurring on land that is suitable based on previous and current land-use(s)?

a.

Land-use change is negatively impacting local communities by taking away vital resources, including current and alternative land use. The land identified for planting is being taken away from an ecosystem (i.e., through land-use change) that is not suitable for planting; planting is happening in locations that would not naturally support forest cover.

b.

The location of plantings is available but not detailed. Some consideration is given to the type of land used for the project but may not include detailed information about the current and previous land uses. The project has no negative impacts on the local community but may not fully consider supporting ecological health and local livelihoods.

c.

Detailed information is available on the location of plantings. Land which is used in the project considers an appropriate tree density based on what would naturally occur. Tree planting occurs on unused/poorly used land and supports ecological health and local livelihoods. The project considers the impact on the structural (carbon sequestration and water yield) and functional (biodiversity) components of the existing ecosystem.

5. Monitoring Practices

Monitoring practices should be clearly outlined in the initial project documentation, with evidence of accurate monitoring being undertaken throughout the project and at regular intervals.

Q. Does the tree growing project have a transparent monitoring system in place to regularly measure progress on tree growing targets and socio-economic trends?

a.

No, or very little, evidence of monitoring practices or tree tracking. Difficult to identify the survival rate of trees due to lack of available information. No baseline ecological and socioeconomic data has been collected.

b.

Some evidence of monitoring practices and form of registry/database but is largely lacking transparency. Registry may lack consistent records of monitoring and tracking. Monitoring is occurring through on-the-ground and/or satellite measurements. Socioeconomic impacts are monitored, but monitoring does not involve participation from the local community. Baseline ecological data has been collected. No socioeconomic baseline data has been collected.

c.

A detailed description of monitoring practices using both satellite and on-the-ground measurements to track progress of trees is easily accessible to stakeholders and highly transparent. Regularly updated database/registry recording the progress of projects and evidence that different types of monitoring are being undertaken periodically in all projects. Monitoring data includes a verification framework in place.

6. Inclusion of Local Communities

Good restoration projects must include the meaningful engagement of Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and consider gender gaps across all stages of project development.

Q. Does the project promote the inclusion of local stakeholders and women’s participation in the decision-making and its implementation?

a.

No evidence of the inclusion of local communities in the decision-making process or recognition of their needs. The project does not fully consider the planting’s impact on local communities.

b.

The project incorporates some consultation with the local community, however, may not consistently engage with the local community. Supporting data can include, for example, maps showing community land use planning, FPIC process, land ownership information, or socio-economic benefits but not demonstrate evidence of consistent engagement.

c.

From the beginning, project developers have been in contact with members of the local community to ensure their needs are supported and that they have been involved in the project design. The project works to support the development and improve the livelihoods of local communities through providing recreational areas, food production or provide income-generating activities. The project explicitly supports the livelihoods of women.

7. Deforestation reduction activities

High-quality tree growing projects must aim to restore a particular area while also protecting local forests and gathering evidence that activities that lead to deforestation in and around the project area have been stopped.

Q. Does the project provide and support additional income-generating activities that are likely to reduce deforestation from occurring within the project or surrounding areas?

a.

No action to reduce forest conversion or landscape-level deforestation in the tree growing project.

b.

There are some activities to reduce forest conversion or landscape-level deforestation in project design and implementation (e.g., support for livelihoods and policy).

c.

There are activities in place that explicitly address forest conversion or landscape-level deforestation through support from improved and alternative livelihoods, policy and/or sustainable land use management plans. Monitoring is also in place to ensure leakage is not occurring during deforestation-reduction and tree growing activities.

8. Forest cover permanence

Tree planting projects should have a final tree cover (%) target established tailored to the natural vegetation density for the native ecosystem. If the project is generating carbon credits, final tree cover targets should ensure carbon permanence, such as a CO2 buffer to compensate for the loss of trees due to natural or man-made circumstances during the project lifetime. This ensures that carbon is still offset, even if the project does not meet its CO2 sequestration target.

Q. Does the tree growing project have mechanisms in place to ensure forest cover permanence?

a.

No tree cover targets or measurements are stated. [Carbon reduction guarantee is less than 20 years or is not detailed. No consideration for how the land/trees will be used at the end of the project. No evidence of a permanence assurance to replace failed tree plantings. No CO2 buffer is in place to mitigate lower sequestration than promised].

b.

Tree cover targets are stated but no plans are in place on how to restore trees in the event they do not survive. [Carbon permanence reduction guarantee is 20 to 50 years. Little detail or trees are planned to be cut down at the end of the project].

c.

Final tree cover targets reflect the % tree cover of local natural forest tree cover. [Carbon reduction guarantee is greater than 50 years. Detail regarding how trees/land are used at the end of the projects and confirmation that carbon sequestration will not be reversed. CO2 buffer details are clear and there is evidence of being implemented in practice].

9. Carbon benefits and accounting

Tree growing projects should include carbon sequestration capacity and accounting frameworks with clear evidence of second or third-party verification and transparency.

Q. Does the project provide evidence of verifiable carbon emission reduction calculations to confirm its credibility in sequestering carbon?

a.

No information is presented on how carbon sequestration is calculated.

b.

There is some evidence of carbon accounting, but may not clearly explain the calculation, the methodology used is proprietary or the calculation is not verified by an independent party. There is a difference between (1) initiatives where high-level carbon benefits are reported and estimated using global data, and (2) those where carbon benefits have been comprehensively assessed and verified against third party standards.

c.

Clear, detailed information regarding how carbon sequestration capacity is calculated for projects. The calculations should incorporate all aspects of carbon storage and should be verified by an independent party. The initiative could also, instead, report on net carbon impacts but make clear that offset claims cannot be made.

10. Baseline and proof of additionality

Projects should be transparent on how baseline emissions are calculated, including how additionality is achieved. Baseline carbon calculations should occur periodically throughout the project’s lifetime.

Q. Does the project show proof of additionality and baseline emission calculations?

a.

No evidence of baseline or additionality calculations. No independent party confirmation of this calculation. The issue of additionality is not addressed.

b.

Evidence of baseline calculation and additionality, but calculations are not verified.

c.

Detailed and verified calculations of baseline and additionality. Clear information on what alternative uses would be for the land without a project. Baseline is periodically recalculated throughout the project.

11. Impact reporting

Reporting on impacts should be undertaken periodically during the project and detailed in the project documentation and clearly communicated to all stakeholders.

Q. Does the project measure and openly report the potential impacts on local biodiversity and community?

a.

None or very little evidence of impact reporting.

b.

Some evidence of impact reporting occurring but may not include extensive qualitative analysis.

c.

Detailed evidence of impact reporting occurring both before and during the project lifetime. Results are easily accessible to all stakeholders.

12. Land rights

Land rights and ownership of carbon credits issues need to be properly addressed, with certification on land rights available.

Q. Is there evidence that those implementing the project have the right to use the land in collaboration with the local community?

a.

No documentation available on land rights and the ownership of emission sequestration rights are considered in the project specification. Project adversely impacts the local community through failure to engage in discussions of land rights and ownership of emission sequestration rights.

b.

Evidence of land rights and emission sequestration rights and ownership documentation, however, this is done without discussion with locals. Land rights issued do not positively benefit local communities.

c.

Land rights documentation is detailed and accessible. Community is included in land rights discussions, decisions, and organisation. An equitable and transparent benefit-sharing plan is in place with local stakeholders including indigenous peoples and communities.

13. Cost

Detailed cost breakdown including all aspects of the tree growing project should always be available (e.g., planting, maintenance, certification, transaction costs, and monitoring).

Q. Does the project provide documentation on the breakdown of the costs?

a.

No documentation or very little detail on the cost of the scheme. No information on entities funding the project.

b.

Very little documentation available on cost or specific aspects not included in the documentation. Limited information on entities funding the project.

c.

Detailed cost breakdown including all aspects of the project (e.g., plantation, maintenance, certification, transaction costs, and monitoring). The cost-effectiveness of reforestation strategy has also been considered in the local context (e.g., natural regeneration, seedling, planting). Entities funding the project are listed.

14. Climate change adaptation management

Restoration projects are a key tool for helping communities adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Tree growing projects should consider mechanisms for anticipating and adapting to climate impacts.

Q. Does the project consider the potential impacts that climate change may have on its long-term functionality?

a.

No consideration of future climate change risks on the project objectives.

b.

The management plan acknowledges the risks of climate change on the objectives of the project but does not detail plans to minimise these risks.

c.

Management plan takes into account how to mitigate the direct and indirect risks that climate change represents to the objectives of the tree growing project. Contingency plans might be in place.

15. Coordination across scales

The goals of the project should be defined in the ecological and social context across multiple stakeholders.

Q. Is the tree growing project well-coordinated and aligned with policies, programmes, and restoration efforts at a larger scale?

a.

No contact or communication with local and/or national entities regarding the tree growing project role in larger policy and goals.

b.

The project is authorised by a local and/or national entity but no involvement of national authorities in the design of the project. Little evidence of consultation regarding the allocation of resources, site selection, balancing land uses, and coordinating goals with stakeholders across multiple scales (local, regional, national, global).

c.

The project has been authorised by a local and/or national entity and fits well into the national strategy to achieve climate goals. Evidence of consultation regarding the allocation of resources, site selection, balancing land uses, and coordinating goals with stakeholders across multiple scales (local, regional, national, global).

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