VANCOUVER, BC - ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. through its 100% owned subsidiary ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Inc., (ERA) is pleased to announce the signing of a Carbon Rights Agreement (CRA) with the Minister of Environment for the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The CRA supports a landscape-scale integrated Avoided Deforestation project.
Project highlights include:
* Initial crediting period: 25 years
* Project size: 299,685 hectares
* Carbon offset annual generation (approx): 700,000 – 1,000,000 tonnes
* Reported average carbon price per tonne in 2009: $6.50 USD*
The project is located in the district of Mai Ndombe, Bandundu Province, in Western DRC. Over 30,000 people live in this ecologically diverse area, which is home to forest elephants, hippopotamuses and endangered bonobo chimpanzees.
The project will be developed to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS), in order to recognize the project's high social and ecological values. Preliminary modeling has indicated that up to 1,000,000 tonnes of verified emission reductions will be produced annually once the project is fully implemented. The project has the potential to generate millions of dollars in revenue for local communities and project participants over the project cycle.
This project will consist of two distinct activity types: Improved Forest Management (IFM) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). The IFM portion of the project will result in the cessation of active commercial logging activity. The reduction of illegal logging and the reduction of unsustainable forest clearing for agriculture and fuel wood will be addressed in the REDD+ portion of the project.
In the first year of project build out, ERA plans to produce Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) derived from the IFM portion of the project, while working with local NGO and community partners to develop the more comprehensive REDD+ portion of the project.
The REDD+ portion of the project will be community-based, with inclusive village-level representative committees establishing conservation areas based on traditional land-use patterns. Activities such as agricultural diversification and intensification, cook-stove improvements, and fuel-wood plantations will be employed in order to allow communities to develop diversified, sustainable local economies while easing the burden on surrounding forests.
Carbon revenue will also provide communities with infrastructural support, including support for the construction of much needed schools and clinics, along with improvements to the region's neglected boat transportation infrastructure. Both REDD+ and IFM activities will only take place with the full, free, prior and informed consent of local communities.
ERA is now finalizing its Concession Management Plan in accordance with the Congolese Forest Code, which is expected to culminate with the signing of a Concession Contract. ERA anticipates this Concession Contract being signed by the end of May. Once the Conservation Concession is in place ERA will begin project development and implementation which will include methodological development, liaising with federal and local governments and participating communities, and working with experienced non-governmental organizations. Additional announcements in this regard will be forthcoming.
Dr. Robert Falls, ERA's Chief Executive Officer, commented: "The Carbon Rights Agreement executed between the Democratic Republic of Congo and ERA is remarkable for a number of reasons. Not only is it the first of its kind to be signed by the DRC, but it represents a significant milestone in implementing ERA's plans to develop landscape-scale climate mitigation projects internationally. This project will generate millions of tonnes of carbon benefits to the atmosphere, while providing protection to forests with the direct engagement of Congolese communities, for decades to come. The project also has the potential to reward investors in the rapidly developing carbon markets in which ERA is engaged, which have grown over 100 fold in the past six years."
* Ecosystem Marketplace and Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in "Building Bridges - State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2010", that the average over the counter (OTC) voluntary carbon offset price for 2009 was $6.50 USD per tonne. ERA cannot state with any certainty that the OTC voluntary carbon offset price will remain at $6.50 USD per tonne and that ERA will be able to sell all or any of its carbon offsets. Carbon offset prices for 2010 will be published by Ecosystem Marketplace and Bloomberg New Energy Finance in the summer of 2011.
Robert Falls, Ph.D.
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
About ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd.
A pioneer in forest restoration and conservation carbon offset projects; ERA has delivered over one million tonnes of carbon offsets to the voluntary market. The company's Community Ecosystem Restoration Program began in 2005 in British Columbia, Canada, and its activities have grown to include supporting forest carbon projects in Africa, New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands. ERA's clients and product users include Air Canada, Catalyst Paper, Rolling Stone Magazine, HSE – Entega, The Forest Carbon Group AG, and Shell Canada Limited. ERA's carbon offset products are validated and verified to ISO-14064, CCBA, PFSI-VER and VCS standards.
SOURCE: ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd.
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