Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘Stand For Trees'?

Stand For Trees is an innovative grassroots campaign that enables individuals — all of us — to take real action to stop forest loss: the number one cause of species extinction and second-leading cause of CO2 emissions globally. Although we know stopping deforestation is critical to curbing climate change, we continue to lose a forest the size of New York City every 48 hours. And deforestation and forest degradation are now larger contributors to climate change than every plane, train, car, and ship on the planet combined.

Fortunately, we have the solution. Since 2007, the international community has been working together on the REDD+ program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Now, for the first time, the Stand For Trees model allows individuals to be part of this solution by harnessing the power of technology and social media so we can all support local communities who are implementing REDD+ practices on the ground in tropical forest countries. When you Stand For Trees, you stand for investing in communities who are pursuing new economic opportunities — creating the economy of tomorrow where trees are more valuable standing than cut down.

What is a ‘Stand For Trees Certificate?’

A Stand For Trees Certificate is a unique form of verified, high-quality carbon credit that protects a specific endangered forest while offsetting one metric tonne of CO2 from entering the earth’s atmosphere. In technical terms, it is classified as a ‘Verified Emission Reduction’ (VER). In addition to preventing a tonne of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, each $10 Certificate you buy helps a local community develop sustainable practices to protect their threatened forest. You are – in essence – paying impoverished forest communities for the critical services they provide by keeping their forests standing against the threat of the chainsaw and short-sighted economic forces.

The fact is, purchasing Stand For Trees Certificates is one of the most effective things an individual can do to both curb deforestation and combat climate change. Imagine if we all saved a tonne and encouraged those around us to do the same?

What is a ‘tonne?’

The term ‘tonne’ refers to a metric tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. CO2 traps heat and thus, when there are high volumes of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, the planet gets warmer.

We currently have unprecedented high rates of CO2 in our atmosphere because when we burn fossil fuels, forests, and other organic matter, we release that carbon into the atmosphere, where it mixes with oxygen to create CO2. The second largest source of these CO2 emissions is our destructive clearing of the world’s forests. It is therefore urgent that we protect our forests, and prevent those tonnes of CO2 from entering our atmosphere. That’s why we need you to Stand For Trees, and support communities that are standing up to deforestation and its resultant extensive CO2 emissions.

What makes this program so unique?

Stand For Trees represents nothing less than a global grass-roots intervention. For the first time, we as individuals are empowered to ‘do a tonne of good’ by buying $10 Stand For Trees Certificates to prevent a tonne of carbon from being released into the atmosphere while protecting critical habitats around the globe. Stand For Trees has the potential to change the game by certifiably demonstrating that trees in critical forest areas are more valuable alive than dead, and by creating a micro-finance model that allows everyday citizens to take action.

Many people want to take action to stop the air and atmosphere from getting worse. They’re disappointed that decades of meetings have wasted time while the problem deepens and worsens. Stand For Trees lets all of us use our PCs or phones to take immediate action. And it offers a powerful multiplier effect. Social media can let us spread the word among friends and family. Increased awareness about the importance of saving the world’s forests can also encourage greater corporate involvement in REDD+ and discourage the purchase of commodities and products that harm forests.

Has this model been proven?

Yes, the REDD+ model has been proven over the past eight years, and is now ready to scale. Globally, REDD+ projects are already meeting rigorous third-party standards, protecting 14 million hectares of threatened forests, and reducing emissions by 22 million tonnes of CO2 annually. These projects are informing and linking with national REDD+ policies and international REDD+ frameworks, led by the United Nations REDD+ Program. Responsible corporations are already beginning to address their unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions by investing in forest conservation through REDD+ credits.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) was created as a tool to value the carbon storage services our remaining rainforests provide under international climate negotiations in 2007. By making forests more valuable standing than cut down, the REDD+ model provides forest communities and countries with a NEW model for economic development — one where both people and planet can benefit.

Why should I care about preventing more tonnes of CO2 from entering our atmosphere?

Unfortunately, we are all responsible for the current high levels of CO2 entering our earth’s atmosphere. Our daily activities — from transportation choices to food consumption — are creating greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. And while governments and corporations continue their important work of creating systemic solutions to this challenge, we all have a responsibility to ‘own our emissions’ and offset the impact we each have as individuals as well.

One of the best ways we can help stop deforestation and forest degradation is by crowd-funding a new economic model that respects the value of forests and the stewardship of forest and indigenous communities. Stand For Trees is that model. It empowers global citizens to support pioneering REDD+ projects and work with local communities to make this vision a reality on the ground in developing countries.

Can you really calculate whether we have prevented a tonne of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere when we protect a particular forest?

Yes! We have always known forests are valuable, and now we finally have the technology to quantify just how valuable they are to our planet’s climate system. When a forest is cleared, its stored carbon is released into the atmosphere, where it combines with oxygen to create CO2, a greenhouse gas that traps heat and warms our planet. Working backwards and using both satellite and ground data, we can therefore quantify the amount of carbon in a particular forest’s biomass and the rate of threat to that particular forest. Thus, we know the amount of CO2 that forest loss would emit, and the rate at which it would hit our atmosphere without the intervention of REDD+ support.

Your Stand For Trees Certificate has been certified by rigorous, independent third-party standards that verify it has indeed prevented a tonne of CO2 from reaching our atmosphere. What’s more, each Stand For Trees Certificate has also been certified by rigorous, independent third-party standards that verify your payment is reaching the local community on the ground that helped protect the forest, providing critical investment for a more sustainable pathway to economic development.

How does my purchase of a Stand for Trees Certificate reach local communities and help reduce deforestation?

Your Stand For Trees Certificate purchase keeps one tonne of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by supporting local and indigenous communities who are protecting that forest in a developing country.

You are paying for the critical service that communities provide by protecting one of the world’s last remaining forests. Your payment provides new opportunities for communities that do not wish to choose between alleviating poverty or protecting their forest. In short, your Stand For Trees purchase empowers them to do both.

Code REDD takes a 12% commission on all Stand for Trees sales, and the company that processes credit card transactions takes about 5% in transaction fees. Each project has a different benefit sharing arrangement, but on average about 50% of every tonne sold goes directly to the communities served by the project. During the project development process, the communities determine for themselves how they would like to invest in their community – education, job-creation, access to healthcare, etc. The remaining funds go to the project developer who finances, implements, and manages the protected area.

Your money finances conservation-oriented community development, including new schools, healthcare, water access, green infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, clean cook-stoves, and more. It also finances the ongoing project management, training and employment of local people to use modern technology for monitoring and verification of the forest’s carbon stock. Stand For Trees Certificates are certified to the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standards as providing transparent benefits to the communities in which they work, helping establish conservation-oriented activities as a viable economic alternative to deforestation in impoverished forest communities.

Is my purchase tax deductible?

Purchasing Stand For Trees Certificates are not tax-deductible, because you are doing more than merely making a donation. Stand For Trees supports REDD+ projects that go beyond the traditional, charitable model for development aid. They are creating new economic incentives for a new economic model; one where trees are more valuable standing than cut down, and where communities do not have to choose between lifting themselves out of poverty or saving their forests. When we stand for trees, we stand for a future sustainable economy that clearly demonstrates we can do both.

What inspired the Stand for Trees campaign?

It’s simple. While governments and corporations understand the need for new solutions to the climate and deforestation challenge, it is people who drive demand. We as global citizens can motivate new economic incentives for forest conservation through REDD+.

We as a global community have never been as connected as we are now. Our goal is to connect and engage the global population on forest conservation and climate action — leveraging the power of social media to bring about grassroots change in how the world’s forests are valued and their stewards are treated. As Margaret Mead so timelessly said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

What makes forests our front line of defense against climate change?

Forests are the lungs of the Earth because they store carbon and produce the oxygen we breathe. The larger our forests, the more we can reduce the growing impacts of climate change. But we’ve already cleared away 50% of what we once had. Today, trees are being cut down at a rate quick enough to clear an area the size of New York City every two days. At the same time, the amount of carbon being released from downed trees and other sources and is at all-time highs. Emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation are comparable to the total annual CO2 emissions of China. They are larger than the entire global transportation sector — meaning all of the world’s planes, trains, ships, trucks, and automobiles racing around the world combined.

What makes ‘Stand For Trees Certificates’ different from traditional carbon credits and carbon offsetting?

Stand For Trees Certificates are high-quality verified carbon credits based on the proven REDD+ model, and meet rigorous standards set by the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance, a partnership of leading NGOs that includes CARE, The Nature Conservancy, and the Rainforest Alliance. The credits are registered on the world’s largest environmental registry services provider, Markit, and meet Code REDD’s peer-reviewed international Code of Conduct

Who are Code REDD and USAID?

Code REDD is a nonprofit 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to support and scale the REDD+ mechanism to fulfill its full potential to empower people, preserve forests, protect wildlife, and reduce emissions. Code REDD envisions a world where the REDD+ mechanism is widely adopted within regulatory frameworks and private sector practices to drastically reduce deforestation, promote low carbon development, and enable a transition to the green economy. USAID (The United States Agency for International Development) is the agency of the US federal government that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. Within its Global Climate Change initiative, USAID has supported sustainable landscapes and REDD+ projects around the world. Specifically, USAID has developed the BIOREDD+ program to support Colombia’s efforts to make forest conservation socially equitable and economically viable by implementing REDD+. Code REDD and USAID’s BIOREDD+ Program have come together to create the Stand For Trees campaign, recognizing the vital need to spread awareness of and engagement with REDD+ to citizens globally.

How are Stand for Trees projects selected?

Stand For Trees projects are selected based on their ability to demonstrate robust impact on forest conservation and community development. Code REDD, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and founder of Stand For Trees, ensures that all projects have met rigorous independent third-party validations on carbon accounting and community benefits, as well as its own Code of Conduct.

What are REDD+, Code REDD and BIOREDD+?

Stand For Trees was developed by Code REDD, a not-for-profit 501c3 based in California, and is enabled with funding from US-AID’s BIOREDD+ program. Created by the United Nations in 2006, REDD+ is an acronym for ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. REDD+ enables us to place an economic value on forests as standing, living ecosystems, thereby competing successfully against the economic value of forests when cut down and converted into timber and agricultural land. REDD+ projects that meet VCS, CCB, and Code REDD’s Code of Conduct protect wildlife, empower communities, and preserve forests — all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. REDD+ projects issue high-quality, verifiable carbon credits that are sold on the Voluntary Carbon Market to create income for communities, and are purchased by companies or individuals looking to reduce their unavoidable carbon emissions.

What does this mean for me?

Climate change is not limited to any individual region. Carbon emissions know no borders. The carbon from deforestation in any specific region is released into our shared atmosphere, with global, local, and often unpredictable consequences. A 2013 scientific study by Princeton University has linked Amazon rainforest depletion to significantly reduced rainfall and snowpack in California and the Sierra Nevadas.

How does purchasing Stand For Trees Certificates help reduce deforestation?

Each Stand For Trees Certificate represents the purchase of a high quality forest carbon credit (REDD+ credit) that supports Stand For Trees projects in developing countries around the world. Your money empowers local communities to protect their forests, halting deforestation and protecting wildlife habitat so the trees can continue to perform their vital services for the benefit of us all.

Purchasing Stand For Trees Certificates is one of the most effective things an individual can do to curb deforestation and combat climate change. What if we all saved a tonne from a forest and encouraged those around us to do the same? What if we all got in the habit of taking responsibility for our carbon and offsetting our unavoidable emissions on a regular basis? Together, we would empower local communities to protect their forests and endangered wildlife for the long-term benefit of the many versus the short-term depletion by the few — by giving them an economic choice to do so.

How else can I reduce my carbon impact?

You can reduce you individual carbon impact by being mindful of everyday activities that release carbon and attempting to minimize those activities when possible. Traveling by air and by car are significant sources of carbon emissions. Additionally, home energy use such as heating and cooling can be a significant source of emissions. Heating a home for two months with gas is the equivalent of releasing two tonnes of carbon emissions.

Dietary changes also can lead to reduced carbon emissions. Animal agriculture is a large driver of deforestation and significant contributor to climate change. Significant changes are necessary if we are to adequately address climate change on the global scale.

How are Stand For Trees projects certified?

Stand For Trees projects are validated and verified to both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. VCS established a robust quality assurance standard that projects use to quantify GHG emissions (carbon) & issue Verified Carbon Units. The CCB Standards were developed by the CCB Alliance, a partnership of leading NGOs with a mission to stimulate and promote land-based carbon activities that credibly mitigate global climate change, improve the well-being and reduce the poverty of local communities, and conserve biodiversity. These two certifications in tandem ensure that each Stand for Trees certificate represents a real, verified tonne of carbon that will be prevented from entering our atmosphere while creating tangible benefits for local communities and protecting wildlife.

How does purchasing carbon credits help empower communities?

Each project is funded through the sale of carbon credits. Local communities rely on these funds to receive the training and materials necessary to protect their respective areas from destructive forces such as cattle ranchers, logging, and other drivers of deforestation. Funds from carbon provide alternative employment opportunities for local communities, while also building schools, improving health clinics, and supporting community projects. Funds from credit sales ensure these individuals are able to become full stewards of their lands and establish sustainable alternative economies without participating in deforestation.

Who are some of the organizations and entities that support the ‘Stand For Trees’ program?

Forward-thinking, sustainably-focused corporations have been the major buyers of verified emissions reductions from REDD+ projects to date. But Stand for Trees is premised on the notion that anyone can buy high-quality REDD+ offsets to neutralize the personal emissions that they cannot avoid. Code REDD has partnered with USAID’s Bio-REDD program (the U.S. Agency for International Development) to bring awareness of this issue to the public and to empower them to take action in a meaningful, tangible, verifiable way.

There is no perfect solution to protecting forests. But Stand For Trees Certificates represent a real and verifiable way to do so, and we firmly believe that they are the best solution available today. Every new, innovative solution will have its detractors — but if there is any doubt just look at the real work being done on the ground through the conservation of forests, protection of wildlife, and the empowerment of people and communities that is occurring throughout the Stand for Trees project gallery.

In addition to Stand For Trees, what are some reasons for optimism in the fight against deforestation?

In addition to the grassroots intervention represented by Stand For Trees, there are other reasons to believe the tide may be turning against deforestation. Brazil has recently led the way, reducing its deforestation by nearly 70 percent between 2005 and 2010. Then, in September, came the New York Declaration on Forests at the UN Climate Summit. Endorsed by dozens of governments, NGOs (including Code REDD), and indigenous groups, the declaration aims to halve forest loss by 2020 and end it by 2030. That would be like eliminating the entire carbon footprint of the United States or China — just by saving trees.

Set against this backdrop is the fact that we’re not moving fast enough. We’re not. And there continues to be plenty of unsettling data that shows how rapidly we are racing toward peril and species extinction. We are. Carbon Tracker noted that only 20% of the known fossil fuel reserves can be burned if we are to keep the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

Like blindfolded accountants with broken abacuses, major stock exchanges around the world continue to put a value on the entire lot — oblivious to the economic and human destruction that would follow from using all or even a significant portion of these reserves. It’s that kind of thinking that makes saving forests all the more important.