The Carbon Cycle and Carbon Footprints
The carbon cycle is a natural process where carbon is recycled from various sources like: organic matter, the atmosphere, and the oceans through sequestration and decomposition. In today’s modern world the burning of fossil fuels, namely coal, releases ancient carbon that was once buried beneath the earth’s crust. The burning of fossil fuels for energy generates carbon dioxide and other gases as byproducts which are released into the atmosphere. The energy we use from burning fossil fuels to make and manufacture various goods and services also contribute to atmospheric carbon. This entire process creates a “carbon footprint”.
[Diagram of the Carbon cycle]
A natural way that carbon is removed from the atmosphere is through the growth of plants, namely trees, which capture carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis. Plants use carbon dioxide to create energy and grow, adding biomass. One of the byproducts of photosynthesis is oxygen, so in essence forests are the “lungs of the earth”.
How you can help by offsetting
You are aware of the importance of reducing our environmental impacts on the climate and the need for every individual to reduce their carbon footprints. Here at La Reserva we plant and reforest tropical forests, which have an amazing capacity to store atmospheric carbon into living communities. Not only do these young native forests capture carbon, but they also provide food and habitat for wildlife, moderate rain, and prevent soil erosion. The benefits of restoring forests is a reason we feel many of our modern day impacts can be lessened through planting native forests.
At La Reserva we partner with local rural landowners and encourage them with financial incentives to reforest part or all of their property. The trees are maintained and protected for five years giving the young trees an opportunity to become a regenerating forest.
To figure out your carbon footprint use the link below which will take you to a carbon calculator created by the University of California- Berkeley[LINK to calculator]. This will give your annual footprint. Then consult our table below to see how many trees you would need to plant in order to offset your footprint. If you would like to know more about how we came up with the sequestration values below follow this [LINK] here.
Table of Payment Plans
|Payment Plan||Trees||Annual Payment||Metric tonnes of CO2**||U.S. tons of CO2|
**All values are based on a sequestration period of five years. So if you were to plant 20 trees, those 20 trees would sequester 2 metric tonnes of CO2 over a five year period.
After you have selected your monthly plan we will email you updates about which projects your trees are being planted in so you can follow the growth of the forest.
Check out our slideshow of past plantings to see how quickly the forest returns!
Pretty easy, so let’s get planting!
At La Reserva we plant over a hundred different species of trees in every planting project we do so to ensure the highest possible biodiversity for our forests. But as a result it makes determining how much carbon each tree sequesters difficult, as each species grows at a different rate. To determine the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by the forests in our region of Costa Rica, we use an average value across the biome in our region (Hobbs, 2007). The value of 20 metric tonnes per hectare is based on the most current carbon stock inventory available near our location (Cifuentes, 2008) and falls within accepted values used elsewhere in the tropics (Dombro, undated). In addition we consulted local tropical ecology experts at the nearby University of Georgia’s tropical field research station in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Cifuentes-Jara, M., 2008, “Aboveground Biomass and Ecosystem Carbon Pools in Tropical Secondary Forests Growing in Six Life Zones of Costa Rica”, Dissertation, Oregon State University Libraries
Dombro, Dexter B., undated, “How much carbon does a tropical tree sequester?”, Tree Nation in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Plant for the Planet, Billion Tree Campiagn
Gibbs, H.K., Brown, S., Niles, J.O., and Foley, J.A., 2007, “Monitoring and estimating tropical forest carbon stocks: making REDD a reality”, Environmental Research Letters (2) 045023