Delegation of the European Union to Timor-Leste

The European Union and Oxfam launch “Rai Matak” (Green Lands): Carbon Farming to benefit Future Generations in Timor-Leste.

10/06/2020 - 06:13

The EU financed initiative will help reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, will provide an income for 2,000 tree farmers, and will support the development of a new green economy.

An exciting internationally-certified carbon farming initiative that will mean hundreds of Timor-Leste farmers planting and nurturing productive forest on deforested land was today announced in Dili.

Rai Matak, which has a budget of USD 3 million, is part of the Global Climate Change Alliance + (GCCA+) programme, financed by the European Union. GCCA+ helps rural communities to adapt to the realities of climate change. The first carbon farming initiative to be supported by the EU in Timor-Leste will be implemented by Oxfam, in partnership with the xpand Foundation and Ho Musan Ida, a Timorese social enterprise based in Baguia, Baucau.

The objective of the programme is to strengthen village economies and address environmental degradation by linking agroforestry with internationally certified carbon trading.  It builds on the successful experience of carbon-farming in Baguia in the Municipality of Baucau, making available know-how and financing to interested rural communities that fulfil certain criteria around Timor-Leste.

The initiative will result in 400,000 viable trees with a sequestration (storage) of up to 400,000 tonnes of carbon. This will have a direct positive economic impact on 2,000 farmers and 6,000 to 10,000 family members. (1)

Tree farmers participating in Rai Matak will receive an annual payment for planting and maintaining trees on their private land. This will help to restore biodiversity and to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The Rai Matak programme will work with farmers to calculate carbon stored by their trees and will sell this stored carbon international carbon markets.

The annual payments to Timor-Leste tree farmers for planting and maintaining trees will strengthen local economies and ensure sustainable growth.

“I’m proud to launch Rai Matak today. This green economy initiative will reduce emissions of carbons that lead to climate change, bring income to Timorese farmers, re-forest environmentally degraded areas, and help rural communities to thrive.  It’s coherent with the European Green Deal – the EU’s own growth strategy that decouples economic growth from resource use and aims for no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050”, said European Union Ambassador to Timor-Leste Andrew Jacobs.

“Carbon farming is a win-win for Timor-Leste. It has the potential to increase a farmer’s annual income and facilitate local economic development plus it will bring major soil and environmental benefits and improvements in food security,” said Kathy Richards, Country Director for Oxfam in Timor-Leste.

‘The Paris Climate Agreement comes into effect in 2020 and carbon pricing is already being factored into the business and finance models of many countries and businesses.  Community agroforestry in Timor-Leste can tap into this market opportunity’, said Andrew Mahar, CEO of the xpand Foundation.

The project will also support the establishment of a National Carbon Foundation in Timor. This Foundation will work with Government, non-government and the private sector in Timor-Leste to build a robust secure carbon farming market by helping Timor-Leste to achieve Gold Standard Certification of forestry areas.

Foundation Ho Musan Ida Country Manager Leopoldina Guteress says tree farmers of Baguia have been earning an income from carbon farming for ten years and are excited to help other communities in Timor-Leste implement the Rai Matak programme and build strong, lasting and positive relationships to benefit future generations.

The initiative aims to support four communities to plant forest trees on degraded land.  These communities will be selected after extensive remote satellite sensing mapping to ensure the eligible planting areas meet international carbon farming standards and local stakeholder consultations. Over the four years of the project it is intended to plant three million trees of which it is estimated that 400,000 will be viable (survive). Over their 30 year life these will sequester (store) more than 400,000 tonnes of CO2e.  Based on current International carbon market pricing of $18 per CO2e will deliver $7.2m into these communities. Work will be done through the Timor Carbon Foundation to link other forestry initiatives into this model thereby delivering a significantly higher returns into subsistence agriculture communities.

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